According to the Real Estate Institute of WA, a 2.5 per cent vacancy rate in homes and apartments constitutes a rental crisis. Perth currently has a 0.6 per cent vacancy rate.
Shelter WA’s Chantel Caruso says more than 1 million Australian homes have no occupancy at all – hence the ‘zombie’ moniker.
She says it typically refers to family homes, and the emergence of Airbnb and short-term accomodation is another factor in rising prices in rental properties.
“Nine thousand homes in Western Australia have been removed from the rental market and turned into Airbnbs,” she says.
“This has a knock on effect because if you take out nine thousand rental properties, that’s contributing to the low vacancy rates and high prices.
“It’s a perfect storm for disaster.”
The re-opening of borders and easing of COVID restrictions is allowing more international students and workers to live in Australia, creating more competition for housing.
Shazaan Hyder, 28, says it took him four weeks to find a rental property in South Perth.
“Many properties were being leased out at the very first inspection, so in my experience, I didn’t even get to see the property,” he says.
“I would get a message an hour before my inspection time saying the property was no longer available.”
Teacher Hannah Speed, 25, says finding a rental property is getting harder, and people are getting more desperate.
“The reason why we moved out is because they increased our rent by $100 a week,” she says.
“To even get that place, we had offered an extra $20 a week.”
Caravan parks in Perth area are reaching maximum capacity, with people seeking small housing units, and others looking to rent land to park their caravan, car or tent.
Ms Curaso says she is happy the issue of empty properties not being leased is being highlighted, and measures should be put in place to tackle the problem, otherwise homelessness will remain a massive concern.
REIWA and the Housing Industry Association have been contacted for comment.