There are fewer properties available to rent across the New England region than there has been previously, and those that remain are quickly climbing in price says Homes North CEO Maree McKenzie
"It's a combination of availability and affordability and they're intrinsically linked," Ms McKenzie said.
"As the supply has dried up, the affordability challenges have increased."
While short-term rental options like Airbnb and Stayz have had an impact on the landscape over the last five years, Ms Mckenzie said the most dramatic changes had come through the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We've had a net migration to the region throughout COVID-19 like most of regional NSW," she said.
"It doesn't take many people moving here to have an impact on the market, it might only be a few thousand people, but it doesn't take a lot to dry up the existing availability."
The Armidale Regional Council in November passed a motion to alert the State Government and Federal Ministers to a 'rising' housing crisis in Armidale and particularly Guyra.
Ms McKenzie said Guyra presented unique challenges, but had been identified by Homes North as having a restrictively tight housing market.
"Guyra has a lot of challenges because of the tomato farm, it's a large industry located there which is great for the town, but trying to keep up the accommodation has been a major challenge," Ms McKenzie said.
"It's a small example of how housing availability needs to be considered when you're trying to support economic development, but there aren't effective plans around the provision of housing and affordability and availability becomes a constraint."
More recently, Moree has also seen an influx of workers for the Inland Rail project, which has also put strain on another tight market.
At the time of writing, just 10 rental properties were listed in Moree on realestateview.com.au.
In other parts of New England availability is better, but costs were becoming exclusionary, which Ms McKenzie said was partly symptomatic of cashed up investors and tree-changers during COVID scooping up regional properties.
"We've even seen people in some locations picking up regional properties for getaways or part-time living - given the adaptability of working from home," she said.
"People are being quite opportunistic as well, investors are scooping up properties, others relocating from the metro areas are paying above the asking price to move into the regions."
She said overwhelmingly it was lower-earning people or families who were suffering as a consequence.
"It is impacting is people who don't have incomes to pay asking rents as they increase, rents become unaffordable. People in housing may not be able to maintain their tenancy through successive rent rises - which feeds into the cycle of unstable housing or homelessness."
She is urging for top down changes from the Federal Government to incentivise and fund the provision of more affordable housing.
"It's really key for us to look at how the housing market is servicing the people of Australia and how important affordable housing is to the wellbeing of people in general - their life outcomes and also the economy as well," she said.
She said some of the Federal Government's tax treatments were too 'broad brush' and could be targeted to new affordable housing to close gaps in the housing market.
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