Asylum seekers and refugees on bridging visas and limited income are struggling to find rental accommodation in Western Australia, according to the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA).
The seriousness of the issue has led to the Red Cross seeking assistance from REIWA in finding property managers to curb the shortage.
“They said they’re often struggling to find accommodation,” REIWA president Brian Greig said. “It’s getting a little bit stressful in WA in terms of the numbers and the need.
“They said to us every capital city is struggling to deal with this issue but Perth isn’t dealing with it so well and it seems owners are not fully aware of the situation and are a bit closed minded to taking on refugees or asylum seekers.”
He explained owners were reluctant to take on tenants as there was uncertainty in how long bridging visas would last.
“It seems owners have a fear they’re not going to stay,” he told Residential Property Manager. “Owners are understandably cautious or reluctant.”
However, the biggest issue was the lack of affordable accommodation in Western Australia.
“Although many refugees and asylum seekers get an allowance, it’s set at 70 per cent of what Austalian citizens get in the same situation, so it’s a very modest amount of money and of course, rents in Perth over the five or six years have become very expensive,” Mr Greig said.
“It’s very difficult culturally for asylum seekers or refugees to find a place because depending where they’ve come from, their expectation might be that it’s quite okay to have several people in a dwelling. But it’s not necessarily the case here and it seems some owners are saying, ‘Look, I’m not prepared to have five or six people in my two-bedroom flat or three-bedroom house’."
Mr Greig said REIWA was currently approaching property managers directly through its weekly newsletters and Facebook to raise awareness about it.
“We’re hoping to get people to become more open-minded about the issue and educate them a bit more on the allowance, the bond money and those things that the Commonwealth makes available to try and ease asylum seekers and refugees into accommodation,” he said.