Queensland’s housing crisis has spilled over into the tourism sector, with desperate renters living alongside holiday-makers across the state.
Many holiday parks in southeast Queensland are booked out, and it is already slim pickings for visitors hoping to enjoy the festive period – five months away – in the Sunshine State.
Just nine holiday parks across Queensland had space for a family of four over the next fortnight, with prices ranging from $2000 to $4589 on booking.com.
Five holiday parks were available on wotif.com.
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Caravan Parks Association Queensland CEO Michelle Weston described it as an “unusual situation”.
“We have incredibly low vacancy rates at the same time as a surge in the popularity of camping, caravanning and roadtrips,” she said.
“We’ve heard stories of families living in tents, renters who haven’t been able to find a new place.
“Right across the state we are hearing about increased inquiries for long term accommodation.”
Ms Weston said it was a delicate balance between helping put a roof over heads and providing spots for traditional tourists.
She said that while many holiday parks had some long term tenancy options, most, if not all, were full.
The great pandemic migration to the Sunshine State, open borders, soaring house and rent prices and natural disasters have combined to create a housing shortage, pushing many desperate renters to find alternative and affordable housing at traditional tourist sites.
And those desperate renters range from low-income families to nurses and tradies, with Queensland’s vacancy rate hitting punishing new lows across many regions during the June quarter.
According to the latest REIQ Vacancy Report, vacancy rates across Brisbane fell to 0.6 per cent (Greater Brisbane) and 0.8 per cent (Brisbane LGA).
It is even tighter in places like Caboolture (0.4%), the Gold Coast (0.5%), Sunshine Coast (0.6%), Fraser Coast (0.5%), Maryborough (0.2%), Cairns (0.5%), Bundaberg (0.4 %), Mackay and Townsville (0.5%).
Goondiwindi and the Southern Downs had vacancy rates of just 0.1 per cent.
Brisbane Holiday Village general manager Geoff Illich said the housing crisis was a “desperate” one.
“In my 28 years… I have never seen so many people in Brisbane, and so much demand for Brisbane accommodation, short term or long term,” he said, adding that his staff were doing their best to help as many as possible.
“All guests are struggling to get all types of accommodation.
“Every three minutes we get phone calls from lovely, desperate people looking for a roof over their heads.”
On the Gold Coast, Elaine Macphee of Ashmore Palms Holiday Village said that for every long term cabin that became available, there were 10 to 15 applications.
She said the housing crisis had been ongoing for “about six months”.
“They are singles, couples, families, locals and people from interstate,” she said, adding that they could all pay rent.
“It seems to be more that they just can’t get anything to rent.”
In Townsville, Coconut Glen Van Park manager Geoffrey Hodge said that while they catered to long term tenants and some tourists, they were fully booked.
He said they received several calls a week from people desperate for accommodation.
“It has been a growing trend in recent years, but rents increasing has been a factor, and we have had quite a few inquiries from people whose rental was sold and they have no where to go,” he said.
Ray White Marsden principal Avi Khan, whose business oversees more than 1000 rental properties from Brisbane to Logan, said landing a rental was akin to winning the lottery.
“We are turning away people that should never be turned away,” he said.
“Doctors have missed out, nurses, teachers, an accountant, even a local hairdresser that we all knew, she was unsuccessful because hers was the 10th application to come in.
“There are just so many (applicants) that our staff are working overtime to try and explain why someone has missed out when they are good applicants.
“There is a lot of hurt out there.”
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has called for the $400 million Pinkenba “white elephant” quarantine hub to be converted to tackle the “twin scourges of a housing crisis and domestic violence”.
The REIQ and Q Shelter have lobbied for a campaign to encourage property owners with dwellings sitting vacant or in holiday letting pools to move them onto the long-term letting market.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles recently confirmed a review was already underway into the regulation of Airbnb-style properties, and what, if any, impact they had on the availability and affordability of longer-term accommodation.
A standard house in Moorooka is currently available to rent for two weeks on Airbnb for $4067, while a villa in Wishart is listed for $2658. The median rent for a house in Moorooka is $520 a week.
Stayz corporate affairs director Eacham Curry said Queensland’s housing crisis did not occur overnight, and put the blame squarely at the feet of the government.
He said “scapegoating” property owners who used holiday letting and short-term accommodation was not going to fix the problem, adding many were “luxury” and likely out of reach of the average tenant.
“Decades of shortsighted development policies focused on propping up the nation’s largest asset bubble, and government-led failures to build adequate levels of affordable housing are the catalyst,” he said.