Two backpackers make use of Lion’s Park on a sunny day.
Two backpackers make use of Lion’s Park on a sunny day. Shannon Newley

Overcrowded rentals spark fears

OVER populated rental houses in Stanthorpe have continued to cause concern to real estate agents, authorities and hostel owners.

The Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) met behind closed doors to discuss the issue after a Border Post article sparked an investigation by State Government last year.

Owner and manager of the The Summit Backpackers Hostel Jesse Zammit said private rentals had not impacted on his business, but he was concerned about the safety aspect of the issue.

“We are completely full up during the season, so from that aspect I can’t say I find it frustrating,” Mr Zammit said.

“But some of the things I have heard from backpackers do concern me.

“The issues with over populating these rental properties are that there is no security, you don’t always know the other people living there and people can walk in and out as they please.”

Two backpackers currently camping in the area said rental prices were too high for travellers in the area and it was difficult to save money so they understood why people opted to fill places above capacity.

Norm Crisp of Crisp Real Estate said the reality was some owners wanted to rent to backpackers and some didn’t.

“Some people want longer term tenants and some don’t mind,” Mr Crisp said.

He didn’t think it had impacted on the prices of the rental market.

“The rents probably have increased over the last 12 months but that’s a phenomenon occurring right across Australia at the moment not just here in Stanthorpe and it’s not because of the backpackers, it’s just how the market is,” he said.

He said there was no was issue with rental availability.

“We have half a dozen houses on the books ready to go right now,” he said.

But he did say there needed to be controls over too many people in one dwelling for fire regulations.

Scott Mann of Cec Mann and Co said he would not rent to backpackers at all because the risks were too high.

He said he was aware of situations where houses in town were being filled beyond their capacity and it was an issue.

“I don’t know how many people you are supposed to have in houses, but many of them are over crowded and it’s a public liability nightmare.

“I think at the end of the day we all have to live in a little town and we all have to feed off each other and we (real estates) are in the game of rentals and the hostels are for backpackers and it should stay that way.”

He said the market was being priced out by overcrowding and the council should do something about.

He said a standard three-bedroom house in town should be rented at $250 a week.

“I feel that every property that takes on backpackers should be registered at least with the council,” Mr Scott said.

“The council would not have a clue where backpackers are in the town.

“They have to act and find out what places are handling backpackers, there should be a register.”



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