Geraldton residents facing homelessness as rent rises and eviction dates loom

Lisa Favazzo & Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton mother Sam Prunster has been looking for a rental for six months.
Camera IconGeraldton mother Sam Prunster has been looking for a rental for six months. Credit: Phoebe Pin

New residents, local families and other community members who have lived in Geraldton for decades are getting desperate in their search for accommodation in a highly competitive rental market.

Cuts to JobSeeker payments coupled with the end of the COVID-imposed ban on rent rises and evictions this Sunday have left Geraldton residents wondering where they will be laying their heads when their temporary accommodation ends or vacate date approaches.

Local single mother Sam Prunster told the Geraldton Guardian she moved out of her previous rental thinking she had somewhere else to stay, but was forced to move in with her daughter in November after her accommodation plans fell through.

She has attended 58 rental inspections and applied for 32 properties since she started looking for a new home in October.

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Ms Prunster said there were often about 30 other people attending inspections in sought-after suburbs, with rentals in less popular areas still attracting about 10 people per viewing.

Not all landlords will be asking tenants to cough up more cash when the moratorium on rent increases ends, but Ms Prunster said the price on some properties was being driven upwards by desperate rental applicants.

“At one inspection where the advertised price was $320 I overheard someone offering $380 and I was blown away,” she said.

“My son was renovating a house in Mitchell Street in Spalding which was on the market for rent for $250 a week and he said someone came in and offered them $300, then another person came in and offered them $350 and another person said, ‘I’ll give you $450 a week’. I thought, well what hope have I got.”

Ms Prunster is not alone in her predicament, with scores of people approaching their vacate date taking to Geraldton social media pages each day with questions about rental availabilities.

One Geraldton mother commented she and her children would be homeless if she did not secure a rental within 30 days.

Another woman said her rental property had just sold and she had six weeks to find a new home.

Renters with pets and large families are also feeling the pressure, with one man commenting his family of 10 was “running out of time to vacate”.

A family of five who moved to Geraldton from Queensland put out a Facebook request for rentals after spending two months trying to find a home.

Social media posts listing private rental properties have been inundated with inspection requests.

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