Geraldton’s rental crisis has plummeted to desperate levels, with the harsh reality of looking for a home possibly squeezing some prospective tenants out of town. The latest Real Estate Institute of WA data reveals Geraldton’s rental vacancy rate hit a record low of 1.5 per cent in October — a striking fall from the 1.9 per cent recorded in September and the 5.1 per cent recorded in October 2019. The state of play in the rental market is causing prices to spike and leaving potential tenants distressed. SEE ALSO: Desperate Geraldton renter targeted in Gumtree grift The October rate is the lowest recorded in REIWA’s 10 years of collecting data in the region. Perth has a slightly lower rate, with 0.96 per cent of rentals vacant in September and 0.95 per cent in October. Last month, there were 51 homes listed for rent in Geraldton compared with 165 at the same stage last year. Healthcare worker Jenny Alford moved to Geraldton in August and said the rental battle might squeeze her out of town. Ms Alford owns a home in another State, is on a full-time wage, and doesn’t have any children or pets — making her a close-to perfect applicant. She said attending rental viewings was a nightmare as agents rarely held home opens on weekends or outside business hours. She said when she had attended viewings, they had been jam-packed, leaving her feeling disheartened before even submitting an application. “There were more than 20 people at one viewing,” she said. “I had no hope. It’s depressing. “I’m constantly getting text messages saying the place I’m looking at is no longer available.” Ms Alford is living in a caravan park, for which she is paying $500 a week. She said the situation had left her feeling unsettled in her new “home” and uncertain about her future. Active West Geraldton principal Phil Sorgiovanni said there was “no question” rental prices were jumping, and prospective tenants were frustrated. He said 72 people were on a waitlist to view one property in Mount Tarcoola, and other properties had gone for as much as $30 a week above the asking price. REIWA data shows Geraldton’s median weekly rent price hit $300 last month, up slightly from $293 in October 2019. “It’s more stressful than the numbers show,” Mr Sorgiovanni said, explaining people generally required a certain number of bedrooms or to be in a specific school district, making their options even tighter. Mr Sorgiovanni said the State Government’s emergency residential rent laws, brought in during the COVID-19 pandemic, barring rent increases and evictions, were slowing rental turnover rates and contributing to the shortage of properties. “(Prices are) rising a lot faster then they should be. Places that used to go for around $300 are now going for $350 or $380,” he said. Mr Sorgiovanni said agents in town were doing their best to process applications quickly, despite a lot more than usual being submitted per property. Active West Geraldton recently launched an online application portal to help speed up the process. To increase the chances of getting a spot, Mr Sorgiovanni recommended to prepare all documents in advance such as payslips, rental histories, referee letters; to show up to viewings on time looking presentable; and to make sure any references knew to expect a call from the agent. The rental crunch is contributing to a rise in people entering the property market. There has been a 5.5 per cent rise in the median house price in the September quarter. House prices have jumped 16.6 per cent in Geraldton over the past year.