New rental price statistics show 20% increase in SA, with Murray Bridge a hotspot

Prices for private rentals have soared 20% over the past two years in South Australia, according to new figures from the SA Housing Authority.

Rents have particularly risen in towns south of Adelaide and at Murray Bridge, according to data gathered from bonds submitted to consumer and business services.

Although not as high, rent increases are more consistent in the Adelaide metro area, with rents in every postcode increasing over the past two years.

Statewide, the average rent for a home has risen to $350 to $420 for leases beginning in January-March 2022 from two years earlier.

The number of available homes has increased from 10,245 per quarter to 7,760.

Among the biggest increases are towns south of Adelaide, such as Willunga, Myponga, Sellicks Beach and Clarendon, where rents have risen by 40-67%, depending on location.

Julie Parsons, a McLaren Vale-based property manager, said the increase was due to strong demand for properties to buy — including from interstate people able to work from home — and low supply.

She said the area offered a country lifestyle while not being far from Adelaide or Victor Harbor.

“A lot of landlords sold, so tenants had to leave,” she said.

A single mother of four, Kirsty Rich was one such tenant.

She had to leave her six-year-old home in Aldinga Beach and was homeless for three months last year – couch surfing and using motels – before finding a place about 45 kilometers away.

Kirsty Rich may have to move out of the rental she found before her new home was built.(ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)

She spent all her time looking for a new rental and had to move her children to a new school.

“It was so awful,” she said.

She bought land near where she currently lives – thanks to the help of her parents and an ABC Radio Adelaide listener – but is again at risk of being evicted from her home, the new owner looking to sell.

It could take up to 12 months to move into his new home from his tenancy, due to delays in council approvals and the start of works.

“It took me 12 months to find my land and I see the prospect of 6 to 12 months without knowing where [I’m] going to be,” Ms. Rich said.

Population pressure at Murray Bridge

While the biggest rent increases were in the small towns of Stansbury, Quorn and Andamooka, the biggest increase for a big city was in Murray Bridge – at almost 70%.

It now costs $450 a week on average to rent a house in the town 75 kilometers southeast of Adelaide, down from $265 in January-March 2020.

A bridge over a river disappears in the morning fog
There is very little social housing available in Murray Bridge.(Provided: Albert Goodridge)

Murray Bridge Mayor Brenton Lewis said it was a matter of ‘supply and demand’, with the town’s economy booming after setbacks such as the Thomas Foods slaughterhouse fire in 2018 .

He said the town’s population of 23,000 was growing and would one day overtake Whyalla and Mount Gambier.

“There are not enough places to rent across a range of accommodation types,” he said.

“It’s a good thing and a bad thing… People are starting to realize that it’s a very nice place to live.

“It’s not that far from the city and we have a lot of jobs – a lot of it is in the food processing industry, but not all of it.”

He hopes that new developments are on the horizon and that the building supply problems ease, the situation can be eased within 12 months.

Shane Maddocks, chief executive of ac.care – the gateway service for the homeless at Murray Bridge – said rents were simply becoming unaffordable for people on benefits or on low incomes.

According to the SA Housing Authority, there were only 15 vacant public homes in the city in 2021, out of 630 owned by the state government, while another 10 were non-tenants.

With private rentals increasing, Mr Maddocks said fewer people could now afford to leave social housing, so no vacancies were opening up.

“But we also have full-employed people, often with reasonable incomes, who can’t find rental properties,” he said.

A man with glasses smiles at the camera with a sign behind him reading 'ac care'
Ac.care chief executive Shane Maddocks said people had access to services such as help paying for food.(Supplied: ac.care)

Apart from some rural areas, only Gawler and Angle Vale saw rent declines, due to a large number of homes coming on the market in suburban towns north of Adelaide.

Unit rents have fallen by 7% in Adelaide’s CBD, with fewer international students looking for apartments.

The most expensive postcode to rent in South Australia is 5065, which includes the suburbs of Dulwich, Glenside, Linden Park, Toorak Gardens and Tusmore, immediately southeast of Adelaide’s CBD, at $700 per week.

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