Rents in rural CQ town soar 60 per cent
MORANBAH renters would have preferred a lump of coal to this Christmas surprise.
When they were meant to be hanging up Christmas decorations, Chloe Harvey said her family was packing up their home after the owner pushed up their weekly rent. In one year their rent had jumped from $400 to $480 a week, the mother of two said.
For their family of four, the extra $4160 a year for such a tiny apartment was unsustainable, Ms Harvey said.
"These are ridiculous price increases."
Moranbah had the steepest increase in median unit rent prices in North Queensland, the Residential Tenancies Authority September quarter report shows.
In the 12 months from September 2018, the median rent for a two-bedroom flat in Moranbah has increased almost 60 per cent, or $105 a week.
The median rent for a three-bedroom house in Moranbah has risen 25 per cent, or $65 a week over the same period.
AH Realty owner Annemarie Haywood said new demand had driven the rental surge.
"This is the first time in the seven years that I've been in business that we have no vacancies," she said.
Every day, she had to turn away prospective renters because there were no properties left on the books, she said.
"The houses that are left are older and more run down."
Some three-bedroom houses that used to rent for $180 a week 12 months ago were now leasing for more than $300 a week, Ms Haywood said.
With sale prices not matching rental hikes, she said it was now cheaper to buy a home and pay off a mortgage than to rent in Moranbah.
Compared to most of Isaac Region, rental demand in Moranbah was unique, the quarterly Real Estate Institute of Queensland report showed.
In September, Isaac Region's weak rental market resulted in a 3.9 per cent vacancy rate, more than double Mackay's 1.7 per cent and far above the Whitsunday's 2 per cent vacancy rate.
This is not the first time the Moranbah community has been hit with a rental squeeze.
After five years of living in the town, Ms Harvey said she could see how the mines "set the price for the town".
After an influx of new workers in town, Ms Harvey said, people were "desperate for housing".
"I've had friends try to live here but they couldn't find the place they wanted."
With many new residents receiving rental subsidies from their workplaces, Ms Harvey said some families simply could not afford to stay in Moranbah.
"I've been around a lot of people who are moving out," she said.
"Unless you work in the mines you can't live here.
"(And miners) are not sending their wives and kids to live here."
Ms Harvey said the family had decided to stay in Moranbah and will start 2020 in a new home after making the move on New Year's Eve.
They will now be paying $700 a week for a 3-bedroom house, which has a yard, and Ms Harvey said they would be able to manage the rent - for now.
"Unfortunately that is the going rate for a house," she said.
"But if it goes up again we'll have to leave (Moranbah)."