On the hunt: Prospective home buyer Alan Harding says finding a clean and affordable rental property in Coffs Harbour is extremely difficult.
On the hunt: Prospective home buyer Alan Harding says finding a clean and affordable rental property in Coffs Harbour is extremely difficult. Rob Wright

Good rental home hard to find

ALLAN Harding doesn’t think he’s asking for too much.

All he wants is a clean affordable place to rent while he and his wife wait for their Victorian property to sell.

“As soon as that happens, I want to buy in Coffs Harbour,” Mr Harding said yesterday.

But his search for somewhere to call home, albeit temporarily, is proving way more difficult than he imagined.

“My problem is some of the affordable rentals here are filthy,” he said.

“Recently my wife and I went to an open house and quite frankly the place was like something from the slums of America. The carpet was rotten, the walls were dirty and covered with black mould; the house was far from fit for human occupation.

“For $250 a week, I don’t expect a palace but I would expect something to be at least liveable.”

What has surprised Mr Harding, who describes himself as a clean-living man with a good rental record, was that the house was subsequently let to one of the many people at the open house inspection.

“When I asked the real estate agent why the place was so disgusting she said ‘the landlord just wants to make quick money and isn’t prepared to fix a thing’,” he said.

“I’m worried that landlords and some letting agents are capitalising on the fact that some of the new migrants in town might not be aware of the standards that we here in Australia expect when it comes to rental accommodation.

“If you are familiar with the rental market in other regional centres as I am, you’d have to say that rents here in Coffs Harbour are high when you consider what is being offered.”

His claims have shocked but not surprised some local real estate agents.

Local spokesperson for the Real Estate Institute of NSW, Chris Hines, said short-sighted landlords who are prepared to cut corners ultimately only damaged the potential realisation of their investments.

“There are always some landlords who focus only on the rental return,” Mr Hines said.

“But they run the risk of their property becoming run down and therefore not getting good capital growth.

“It really is inexcusable when you consider that any property improvements are tax deductible.”

Elders Real Estate property officer Lyndal Phillips was horrified when she heard about Mr Harding’s encounter with a rival local agent.

She said she would never show a rental property that wasn’t in good order.

“Even though rental returns are strong here in Coffs Harbour it makes no sense not to do the necessary maintenance and present them at their best to get the maximum rent,” she said.

Both Ms Phillips and Mr Hines agreed that a shortage of investment properties had resulted in rising rents.

“It’s the classic supply-and-demand equation and at the moment, there is little supply so rents are going up,” Ms Phillips added.

“A lot of investors have left this market because of cheaper land tax in Queensland so it is inevitable that prices will continue to rise unless new rental properties come onto the market,” Mr Hines said.

“At the moment the vacancy rate is very tight.

“I don’t know for instance how we are going to find enough accommodation for the hundreds of workers who are due to come here for the construction of the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade.

“All agents would seem to need new stocks of rentals.”

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