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Australia housing crisis: South Coast council begs holiday-home owners to rent out properties

Holiday home owners are urged to rent out homes as housing crisis escalates: ‘This is a social disaster of epic proportions’

  • Eurobodalla Shire Council has asked holiday home owners to rent out properties
  • There are about 8000 homes in the area whose owners mainly live elsewhere
  • It’s because dozens live on nearby campgrounds amid a shortage of affordable housing
  • Mayor Mathew Hatcher hopes the plan will give time to build more homes

Thousands of holiday home owners have been begged by a New South Wales council to rent out their vacant properties as Australia’s housing crisis escalates.

Some 8,000 homes in the Eurobdalla Shire Council, which stretches along the state’s south coast, sit empty for much of the year as their owners live mostly outside the area.

Meanwhile, nearby campsites are full of Australians struggling with homelessness amid a shortage of affordable rental accommodation in the region.

Now Mayor Mathew Hatcher is begging non-resident rate payers — 7,500 of whom live permanently in Sydney and Canberra — to rent out their second homes for one to two years.

While he appreciates that many Canberrans take summer vacations in the county – which stretches from South Durras southwards to beyond Tilba Tilba – and that the struggling region needs their tourist dollars, he said tackling the housing problem of the is of utmost importance.

Thousands of homes on the south coast of NSW remain empty for most of the year, while locals struggling with homelessness live on campsites.  Pictured: Moruya

Thousands of homes on the south coast of NSW remain empty for most of the year, while locals struggling with homelessness live on campsites. Pictured: Moruya

“This is a social disaster of epic proportions. It’s a pitch for dignity and humanity,” he said ABC news

‘We cannot wait years for houses to be built. We need to address the lack of rental housing in our community now.”

Cr Hatcher has written a letter about the case to the homeowners, which include 4,000 Sydney residents, 3,500 Canberrans, 380 Victorians and hundreds of others from interstate or abroad.

After the Black Sumer Bushfires in 2020, which saw the loss of 500 homes in the community area, a similar plea was made that resulted in more than 80 vacation homes being put up for rent.

Cr Hatcher said that if people would repeat that generosity, it would help the situation significantly.

Hatcher said he wants to avoid introducing rules on the number of days houses can be rented out for short stays, which is being pursued in Byron Bay as the council wants to encourage tourism.

Mayor of the Eurobdalla Shire Council Mathew Hatcher (pictured) has written to holiday home owners, begging them to rent out their properties for one to two years

Mayor of the Eurobdalla Shire Council Mathew Hatcher (pictured) has written to holiday home owners, begging them to rent out their properties for one to two years

He said trying to balance the reception of holidaymakers, who are vital to the economy, as well as finding homes for locals has left officials in a ‘sticky place’.

However, he said some companies are even struggling to find staff to move to the area due to the lack of available housing.

“I hope this letter will bring in enough stock so we don’t have to go to the next level,” he said.

The call comes as more than 50 people endure the winter chill in tents and caravans at a campsite near Moruya as they struggle to find a home.

Moruya real estate agent Samantha Sheather said rental properties are in short supply and permanent tenants are better business-wise for landlords who typically rent out their holiday homes as short-term accommodation.

Dozens of people struggling with homelessness live on campgrounds along the south coast of NSW.  Pictured: A campsite in Moruya North Head

Dozens of people struggling with homelessness live on campgrounds along the south coast of NSW. Pictured: A campsite in Moruya North Head

However, she said many would-be landlords were hesitant because of the rules introduced during the pandemic that make it more difficult to evict people who can’t afford rent.

The country is experiencing its worst rental crisis ever, with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing 577,000 vacant homes across Australia.

Real estate expert Michael Matusik believes new tax measures should be introduced to ‘incentivize or punish’ owners to release the properties for rent.

‘About 29 percent of real estate investments are not let. They stand empty there,” Mr Matusik told the Courier Mail.

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