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Australian housing crisis forces single Perth mum and her daughter to live in a barn

Australian housing crisis forces single Perth mum and her daughter to live in a barn
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Read Time:3 Minute, 18 Second

Jaded house hunters locked out of the rental market by soaring weekly costs and a shortage of housing stock are being forced to get creative to secure a property.

Agencies are seeing record numbers at home opens and prospective tenants are having to weigh up alternative arrangements like caravans, tents, yachts and vans just to have somewhere to lay their heads at night.

A Perth mother, who wished to remain anonymous, is currently renovating an old barn so she and her young daughter will have a place to call their own.

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A breakup 12 months ago essentially sliced the support worker’s financial capabilities in half, and with Perth’s vacancy rate below one per cent, she said she was attending home opens knowing her chances of securing a place were slim.

“I’ve been renting for 10 years and am a very good tenant on paper,” she told 7NEWS.com.au.

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“But I have no chance of getting a rental in this market — it’s pointless.”

The median weekly rental price in Perth has surged more than $150 in the last two years and now sits at $615.

With just one income, the mother said that figure was simply out of reach.

She has been staying with friends, but changing circumstances meant she was running out of options fast.

Fearing she would be homeless, she was offered the chance to move into a barn shed owned by one of her clients — if she could get it up to scratch.

A Perth mother will rent a barn after struggling to secure a property. Credit: Supplied

She will live there rent-free, but cover her own utility costs and living expenses.

The move is beneficial on two fronts, giving her a place to live and ensuring the elderly person she is a support worker for has care close by at all times. She will also tend to the man’s horses.

The mother, with the help of friends, is now renovating the dilapidated construction to make it liveable and safe.

It has already undergone a big clean out, but it needs work to ensure it has power, plumbing and a kitchen and “there’s a long way to go”.

Friends have launched a GoFundMe campaign to ensure the project is finished.

The support worker is optimistic about moving into the property, which will have horses on her doorstep.

“I’m really excited to have our own space,” the mother said.

“It’s a massive relief and an incredible feeling.”

Challenging market

WA rent prices have spiked 18 per cent in the last year.

“There is no doubt this is a very challenging market for tenants and will continue to be so for some time,” Real Estate Institute of WA chief executive Cath Hart said.

In a positive sign for tenants looking for a property, REIWA recorded an increase in listings in January, however the tide hasn’t shifted enough just yet.

“We’d want to see several months of increasing listings and a consistent rise in the vacancy rate before calling a change in the rental market,” Hart said.

“There were signs of improvement mid-last year, with listings and the vacancy rate rising, but the market tightened again towards the end of the year.

“What we are starting to see is a change in household sizes in response to the market.

“While COVID saw the average number of tenants per household decline as people sought their own space, the current situation is seeing household sizes increase as tenants join forces to deal with rising rent prices and the difficulty in finding a home.”

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