Central Highlands landlords face tough times
WITH 282 rentals up for grabs in Emerald, and more than 350 in surrounding towns, it is a renter's paradise in the Central Highlands.
But for landlords, it is a living hell - with desperation at an all-time high as more rentals pop up onto the market.
Anna D'Silva has an investment property in Blackwater and said landlords were feeling the pinch and were forced to lower their rent or offer incentives to get tenants in their houses.
"I have offered free rent, offered tenants to tell me what you want to pay, within reason - I'd rather $80 than nothing," she said.
"I haven't had a tenant in the house for about four to six weeks.
"I call the real estate every other day, but no luck."
Ms D'Silva invested in the Blackwater rental home in 2008, and she has found recent times a huge struggle.
"My father suffered a stroke in 2009. He is still paralysed on the left-hand side and we are looking after him with physiotherapy," she said.
"The rent was helping me care for him at this point - and now it is back down.
"I have spoken to people; half of them are currently in rented property and landlords aren't able to make repairs because they can't afford it.
"They are really struggling to meet mortgage payments."
Ms D'Silva, who runs an online property investors group as well as blogs for a national property magazine, said FIFO mines and rates were the major contributors to the problem.
"I called six companies in Blackwater and they all told me 'sorry, we have got our own accommodation camps', and that was the end of the story - no sympathy, nothing," she said.
"They like to employ FIFO and it is just dragging the town into the ground.
"Investors will bring money to the place, they will subdivide, add dwellings, renovate, building economy.
"I have pleaded with the council (about rates), I don't know how people are surviving... if nothing changes they will drive people out of the town."
Ms D'Silva said if she could not find a tenant for her home, she would have to cut her losses.
"We will just put this down as a very bad mistake and move forward."
Len Rosemeyer has two investment properties in Blackwater and said the council was "rubbing salt in the wound" with its rates.
"If things don't turn to some extent, any signs of positivity, the town will go under," he said.
"What investors are going to want to come back? It's ridiculous; there are no incentives at all to be up there."
Local real estate agent Clinton Adams said property managers were also feeling the pain of the rental market.
"All agencies would be working very hard at the moment to get these properties full - it is a very emotional time for landlords and owners, and a lot of the property managers are feeling that too," he said.
"These are hard times, but they won't last forever. It will change again."