RENTS have soared by up to 155 per cent in just four years for one local shire as the mining boom creates increased demand for accommodation across the North West.
Housing NSW figures show the Narrabri Local Government Area (LGA) – home to a number of active and developing mines – has seen a dramatic rise in average rental prices.
Rental rises in Narrabri and Boggabri have outpaced the more modest growth witnessed in Tamworth, Armidale and Moree over the same period.
In fact, Boggabri was last year ranked as Australia’s seventh-highest rent-yielding suburb, with a return of 8.9 per cent, in a report compiled by RP Data.
A one-bedroom dwelling in the Narrabri LGA fetched an average weekly rent of $250 in the March 2014 quarter, compared to just $98 in the March 2010 quarter.
During that time, Tamworth’s average weekly rent for a one-bedroom house or unit rose by 23 per cent, from $145 to $178, while Armidale climbed 42 per cent, from $120 to $170.
The statistics indicate fellow mining town Gunnedah, in which an estimated one-in-five residents are employed in the coal industry, has also experienced a surge in rents.
Average rents for a four-bedroom home in Gunnedah hit $430 a week in the March quarter – the highest in the region – compared to $323 in 2010.
Gunnedah resident Kenina Ley said her mother’s house near Boggabri, sold for $40,000 eight years ago, was now being rented at $700 a week.
“It’s a joke,” she said on The Leader’s Facebook page. Fellow Gunnedah resident Allyson Moses was equally outraged, saying: “It’s disgusting. You’re paying anything from $300 up. Very (rare) you can get anything under that and if it is, it’s usually not a good house. Everyone is not a rich miner.”
Ray White Narrabri property manager Helen Southwell said she would dispute assertions the shire was experiencing a mining boom.
“It’s been slowly happening,” she said.
“Everyone’s been waiting for a boom since about 2008, but no one’s heard one yet.”
However, she said rents had increased, but not as much as they might have without the MAC villages in Boggabri and Narrabri providing accommodation for mine workers.
“As much as they love to hate the MAC camp, I think now local residents really need to be thankful it is there, because it is protecting the rents for the locals,” she said.
Narrabri mayor Conrad Bolton said the council was conscious of doing what it could to ensure residents were not priced out of the market.
He said the council had developed the 32-block Shannon Estate to ease demand and had opened up more land for development.
“We didn’t want this extraordinary house price and rental increase on the back of (the mining boom), because all that does is destroy the fabric of your society,” he said.