A hardworking couple have revealed the devastating reality of the country’s rental crisis after becoming homeless, being forced to live in a tent and having ‘no choice’ but to send their kids away.
Jen* and her husband, both 30, earn a healthy combined income of $100,000, but it isn’t enough to keep a roof over their heads or their family together.
The parents from Gold Coast told FEMAIL they have applied for 70 properties in the city and nearby Tweed Heads over the last four months without success.
‘We aren’t the only people we know in this situation. The massive influx of people to the region have made getting a rental impossible,’ she said.
‘The crisis isn’t just in Sydney it is really bad here on the Gold Coast too, people need to know that.’
The couple have had to send their 11-year-old son and six-year-old daughter to live with relatives ‘hours away’ because they don’t want to expose them to life on the street.
A Gold Coast couple have been forced to send their kids away and move into this tent because they can’t find a rental property
Mum, 30, is a support worker training to become a nurse, and the dad, also 30, is a tradie
‘We don’t know when we will be able to see them again. They cry when we call them because they miss us, it is heartbreaking,’ she said.
It has already been a month, which feels like eternity for the kids who have never spent more than a night or two away from their doting mum and dad.
They were initially displaced when their long-term rental sold.
‘Unfortunately the buyers weren’t investors so we had to move,’ Jen explained.
They struggled to secure a new home – so signed a three-month lease on a short-term rental hoping that would give them enough time to get sorted.
But it wasn’t – and when the lease was up the owners needed the tiny two-bedroom flat back.
‘We couldn’t get another rental so we had no choice but to camp.’
The couple have applied for 70 homes – including this two-bedroom apartment to no avail. This apartment was listed at $460-per-week last month, the previous tenants were paying just $285-per-week
This duplex was listed for $590-per-week, the couple applied but it was taken off the market within a week
The couple’s $500-a-week budget won’t get them much now prices have gone up – but they are even being knocked back on one and two-bedroom places.
‘Most of the time you don’t hear back or have to call them constantly for an answer,’ she said.
Realtors have told her many homes already have ‘approved tenants’ before the open houses even take place.
‘It is frustrating and feels like a waste of time. Sometimes there are 30 or 40 people there,’ she said.
Jen, who is a support worker and studying nursing full-time, said she can’t afford to ‘offer more’ on the properties.
The couple say nights can be cold and that when it rains ‘everything gets wet’ (pictured, the tent they live in)
‘We can afford more than that right now, but I have to do my 1,000-hour placement soon so we will be down to one income,’ she said.
‘You can’t work and do the placement.’
She and her tradesman partner ‘still can’t believe they are homeless’.
They don’t have a fridge and gave up on their Esky, and cold food, after forgetting to put ice in it
‘It is unbelievable the government lets this happen, we have both worked hard, paid taxes and done the right things in life,’ she said.
‘We don’t smoke, drink, gamble or take drugs. We just want to raise well-mannered children in a happy home and we can’t even do that.’
They had to buy the tent and other gear when they found themselves living on the street, as they aren’t ‘campers’, and have had to be very discreet as they aren’t supposed to ‘live’ on site.
‘We thought it would just be for a few days or a week, but we are still here,’ she said.
The couple shiver through the nights then have to get up at first light because the tent gets too hot.
They charge their phones at work and have even used their cars to shield their tent from the elements.
‘It stormed the first eight days we were here, it was wet and gross,’ she said.
When the cold front moved up the coast last week they ‘froze’.
‘We didn’t realise it was going to be so cold, and it was so windy that night. Like a cyclone. I googled it and winds were 35km/h. We parked our cars in front of tent as a wind break.’
This home was listed for $590-per-week but agents accepted an offer ‘over $700’
They have also learned a lot.
‘The first week we didn’t communicate properly and the Esky went without ice, all out meat went off so we don’t have cold food storage anymore,’ she said.
The couple are hoping for an end to their nightmare soon.
‘I feel like I spend all my time at the university trying to find us a home.’
According to Core Logic Data prices of rentals have exploded in the couple’s chosen areas.
One two-bedroom apartment they applied for was listed for $460, the previous tenants paid just $285.
The data suggests even less-desirable properties are being snapped up quickly – the unit had been on the market for almost six months before it was rented out for the lower price.
This time it was leased in weeks.
The median cost of a two bedroom property in Tweed Heads is $669k, while median rent sits at $600-per-week.
They aren’t allowed to live at their camp – but thought they would be in and out in a week
The median rental price for a three-bedroom place in Tweed Heads is $790-per-week.
The Housing Industry Association predicted rentals costs, which already grew by 17.6 per cent for units and 14.6 per cent in capital cities last year, could now climb higher still as supply fails to keep pace with demand.
Nationally the residential vacancy rate is 1.1 per cent, the same figure as Melbourne and Hobart, while it’s 1.3 per cent in Sydney and a crushing 0.5 per cent in Adelaide.
The return of migrants, students and tourists to Australia could mean vacancy rates will worsen.
‘This imbalance will see the affordability and rental crisis deteriorate further,’ said Tom Devitt, HIA senior economist.
Real estate agent shares tips for securing a rental:
Adam Flynn, Victorian State Director of the Coronis Real Estate Group says there are three things renters can do to improve their chances of securing a long-term rental.
1 – Pay as much as you can up front – ie three months
2 – Personalise the application – Add a cover letter explaining what you love about the house. Tell them who you are, introduce your family being very specific about pet and kids. Let them know your personal situation. ‘They are human, the more detail the better.’
3 – Make sure the application completely filled out correctly and your references are good. With the rental history provided for background checks.- user friendly. ‘If they have eight applications it is easier to go forward with the correct one, it might not be the best one.’
Some renters have revealed their frustrations with finding suitable, or any, housing despite having clean rental records and good incomes.
People with children and pets often find it more difficult to secure a lease than other people.
NSW Tenants’ Union CEO Leo Patterson-Ross told Daily Mail Australia the pressure was on the government to deliver much-needed good news to renters in the budget on Tuesday.
‘This is a critical budget to set up the recovery in the renting and housing system,’ he said.
Mr Patterson-Ross said families that rent are too often in crisis.
‘We are hearing from people sleeping in cars, in makeshift homes that do not provide proper protection or might be unsafe or dangerous environment.’
*Name changed to help the family remain anonymous. If you think you can help them email belinda.cleary@mailonline,com
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk