Rental crisis: Tenants of Utopia Suites apartments in Brisbane are being evicted to make way for Airbnbs
Hundreds of renters are facing potential homelessness after being told to vacate their apartments to make way for Airbnbs.
Tenants living in the Utopia Suites apartment complex in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley claim they are being evicted as management converts the properties into short-term accommodation for tourists.
The brutal move comes as Australia is in the midst of a nationwide housing crisis with rental vacancy rates at a record low of less than 1.0 percent.
It is unclear how many residents of the Wickham Street building will be forced to leave, but advocacy group South East Queensland Union of Renters claims it is in the ‘hundreds’.
“Residents … are reporting that the owners of the landlord’s building have just evicted hundreds of people from their apartments … and are planning to replace long-term apartments with Airbnbs,” the group said in a statement Thursday.
Tenant Sarah Nixon faces an uncertain future after being told she will have to vacate her apartment to make way for Airbnbs
Tenants at the Utopia Suites apartment complex in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley (pictured) claim they are being evicted as management converts the properties into short-term accommodation
Advocacy group South East Queensland Union of Renters claims ‘hundreds’ could be affected by the evictions, and has warned people could be forced to sleep in their cars
Rent increases in mainland states over the last 12 months
State Monthly increase Annual increase
WA $180 $2,160
QLD $177 $2,124
VIC $169 $2,028
ZA $158 $1,896
NSW $142 $1,704
While renters are forced to live in cars, plop down on their friends’ couches, or sleep on the street in parks, and thousands more struggle to meet their needs after high rents, landlords are making a killing on the exploitation. of tenants.’
It is understood that residents have been notified of the building’s transition to short-term accommodation via a message in the elevator room from management.
Tenent Sarah Nixon lived at the Utopia Suites for about 18 months before learning of her eviction, saying she had yet to find a new home.
“I’ve just been told they’re not going to renew my lease,” she said 7NEWS.
“I was told the owner was moving in, but now they’re moving it to Airbnbs,”
‘Especially in a rental crisis, it’s like, where are we going?’
Fellow resident Shakira Wilson said she “freaked out” when she was told she would have to move, after living in her unit for just three months.
However, she said she was “very lucky” to have been given another apartment in the complex after asking “if we could go anywhere in the building.”
The building management company has recently been renamed from Utopia Suites Management Pty Ltd to Kooii Apartments.
The Kooii website says the new offering will be available from March and would be “ideal for leisure and business travelers alike.”
Kooii Apartments offers a fresh and new exclusive collection of short stay apartments combined with amenities such as an infinity pool, spa, sauna, gym, rooftop cinema, rooftop BBQ facilities and outdoor sitting and lounging area. .
The management of the building has recently been renamed from Utopia Suites Management Pty Ltd to Kooii Apartments and will offer short term accommodation
When questioned by news.com.au, Kooii Apartments addressed allegations that residents were forced to leave their apartments for short stays.
“We manage just over 200 apartments out of 300 in the building as property managers for individual owners,” is the reply.
‘Some of these owners have exercised their option to place their apartments in the short-term rental pool (serviced apartments).
“The apartment owners we represent have a right to try to maximize the return on their investment.”
Tenants across the country are feeling mounting pressure amid historically low vacancy rates and rising demand as rents continue to skyrocket.
In Sydney and Melbourne, only 1 percent of rental properties are for rent.
Brisbane’s vacancy rate is 0.8 percent. In Hobart it’s half that, and in Perth and Adelaide it’s worse, with just 0.3 per cent available – meaning only one in 300 rental properties can be let at the moment.
The problem is also spreading to the regions, where the availability of rental housing has fallen to 0.8 percent.