Daily Mercury reporter Melanie Whiting
Daily Mercury reporter Melanie Whiting

Homelessness guaranteed when rents go up $95 a wk in Mackay

Having rented for the past seven years since moving out of home, I consider myself a good tenant.

My rent is always paid on time (bank glitches aside), I keep my apartment in good order and I'm not really the type to nag or complain at the drop of the hat.

That's why I was shocked to receive an email from my real estate a month ago informing that my rent was to be increased by $95 per week, which would have to be split between myself and my housemate.

With no explanation and as little as two months prior warning - I was taken aback.

A meeting I arranged with my property manager a couple of weeks ago was of little comfort.

The reason I was given for the huge increase? "Market value".

I was also informed that if I didn't want to pay it, there were plenty of people around Mackay that would be keen to rent the place. What a lovely thing to say.

The whole experience was incredibly disheartening to say the least.

But I'm not sharing my story to seek sympathy.

I consider myself to be lucky - I'm not a high income earner, but I can afford a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my fridge.

There are a lot of families and people in Mackay who cannot afford such things.

That's why when I heard about the city's rental vacancy rate dropping to less than 1 per cent, my thoughts immediately turned to the battlers in this region.

The math is pretty simple. Huge demand for housing plus lack of affordable housing means those who can't afford it get left behind.

That is the unfortunate situation we are now facing in Mackay.

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Rental stress is rising across Mackay. Picture: Unsplash/Christian Erfurt
Rental stress is rising across Mackay. Picture: Unsplash/Christian Erfurt

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While I can afford an extra $47.50 per week with a few budget modifications after splitting the jump with my flatmate, there are certainly many households that simply cannot.

Landlords and real estates can increase rents without a second thought, but for the single mums and dads, those out of a job and people just down on their luck, an extra $50 a week can mean the difference between putting food on the table, and in some cases, keeping a roof over their heads.

Through this experience, I was even more dismayed to learn that even when real estates decide to jack up rent prices, there is little protection for renters in Queensland to stop this.

In Queensland, tenants need to have a 60-day written notice period for any proposed rent increase and landlords can only increase rent every six months in Queensland.

While there's no standard definition of what is considered "excessive", ACT legislation specifies that an increase of 20 per cent more than the average increase in rents in a given area is excessive.

With the housing market becoming even more difficult to enter as the years pass by, the Queensland Government must provide more protection for renters.

For some people, this could be the difference between keeping a roof over their head or sleeping rough.  

Have you been impacted by this issue? Email: melanie.whiting@news.com.au to share your story