Debbie-Lee Ibberston and her partner Scott with their son.
Debbie-Lee Ibberston and her partner Scott with their son.

Surge in demand leaves family on brink of homelessness

DESPERATE would-be tenants hoping to secure a rental property in Ipswich have been forced into unofficial bidding wars.

The shocking revelation, however, may not come as a surprise to some amid reports Ipswich and Brisbane are facing the tightest rental market in the past decade.

Sadly, increased demand and a lack of vacancies often results in 20-plus applicants fighting it out for one property.

Mother-of-four Lee Ibberston and her partner Scott were among some of the residents left struggling to find appropriate housing.

The family was forced to seek alternative shelter after their last property became unliveable.

“With four kids, you can’t really stay on a friend’s couch. There’s not a lot of places to go,” she said.

Many would-be tenants are reportedly offering more than the asking price for rent to get a leg up.
Many would-be tenants are reportedly offering more than the asking price for rent to get a leg up.

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It took them more than three months to be approved for their current property despite appearing as ideal applicants on paper.

Mrs Ibberston said it was through a word-of-mouth recommendation from another agent that their nightmare finally came to an end.

“I’m a full-time senior teacher with income and security, we’re blessed to have that,” she said.

“We’ve always been homeowners and we’ve had investment properties ourselves.”

“We thought that would put us in good stead, but it actually had the opposite effect because we had zero rental history.”

Unfortunately, the family was dealt an added blow in having to deal with the market’s fallout during the height of COVID-19.

“On merit alone, no one wanted to touch us. Even with stellar credit history and no criminal records or anything dodgy,” Mrs Ibberston said.

Debbie-Lee Ibberston and her partner Scott say the event causede great anxiety.
Debbie-Lee Ibberston and her partner Scott say the event causede great anxiety.

“Because of COVID you had to apply online first and if you got a look in at all then you would come to a showing and be competing with so many people.”

Mrs Ibberston said the traumatic experience still caused sleepless nights.

“It was really scary, it’s had such an impact on me that I have this real fear, that even though we’re on a one-year leese, I feel the urge to ring and ask if we can re-sign already,” she said.

“What about those poor people who have lost a job due to COVID, or those in a lower- socio-economic bracket.

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“If we can’t get a house, what the heck are those people doing?”

Real Estate Institute of Queensland CEO Antonia Mercorella said the Ipswich market was experiencing unprecedented demand for rental accommodation.

She said property availabilities sat at 1.1 per cent – a minor increase on the record low 0.9 per cent in recent months.

REIQ predicts no improvements to Ipswich’s rental market in the near future.
REIQ predicts no improvements to Ipswich’s rental market in the near future.

“There’s a range of reasons for why rentals are in such limited supply across the Ipswich region including the Federal Government’s moratorium on evictions, which has seen many renters remain longer in rental accommodation due to COVID-19 – particularly those renters who have successfully renegotiated a more manageable level of rent,” Ms Mercorella said.

“We’ve also seen a shift in families relocating to be nearer to each other as well as more people relocating to either be closer to work or for new work opportunities.”

Investment property sales also took a hit amid the global pandemic.

“As a result of tight vacancy rates, it can potentially push the market towards unaffordable, making it less attractive to investors,” she said.

Ms Mercorella said it was unlikely rental vacancies would change significantly in the near future as more people moved from interstate.



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