Perth’s healthcare hiring surge raises the roof on rental rates

By Our Reporter
Representational Photo by Getty Images. Licensed under the Unsplash+ License

Western Australia is embarking on an ambitious drive to bolster its healthcare workforce, aiming to recruit thousands to meet the growing demand over the next decade. This initiative, spearheaded by WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson’s trip to India, seeks to attract skilled workers to the region. The Cook Labor government’s proactive stance on healthcare recruitment underlines the critical need for an additional 5,000 healthcare workers to ensure the state’s health system remains robust and responsive.

However, this recruitment push is casting a shadow over Perth’s rental market, already under pressure from a tight squeeze on availability. The rental vacancy rate in Perth has lingered below one per cent for over a year, signaling a fiercely competitive market. The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia CEO, Cath Hart, has noted that a balanced market would ideally have a vacancy rate between 2.5 to 3.5 per cent, a far cry from the current situation.

To mitigate this, the state government has introduced incentives, such as a $10,000 payment to property owners to convert short-term rental accommodations into long-term rentals. Despite these efforts, the demand for skilled workers, underscored by a significant reduction in WA’s state-nominated migrant program slots, adds another layer of complexity to the housing market’s dynamics.

The property market in Perth, while showing robust growth in both house prices and rentals, is grappling with challenges. House prices are expected to grow by 10% in 2024, with rents also on the rise. The median dwelling rent in Perth hit a new high of $600 per week by the end of December, marking a 15.4% increase from the previous year. Rental listings have remained low, with a notable drop to 1,518 in December, exacerbating the competition for housing.

This growth is driven by a combination of factors, including a notable decrease in the number of homes for sale and a significant tightening in the rental market. With rental listings at near-record lows, the pressure on the rental market is unprecedented. The fast-moving market environment, characterized by properties selling rapidly, underscores the high demand and limited supply affecting the market.

The implications of this surge in healthcare recruitment on Perth’s rental market are manifold. With the state already facing a shortage of properties and an increasing demand for housing, fueled by population growth and a strong economy, the situation presents a complex challenge. The influx of healthcare workers, while beneficial for the health system, will likely exacerbate the existing pressure on the housing market, making affordable rentals even more scarce.

As Perth navigates this challenging landscape, the balance between attracting essential skilled workers and ensuring affordable housing for its residents remains a critical issue for policymakers. The need for a strategic approach to increase housing supply and manage demand is more crucial than ever to ensure the city’s growth is sustainable and inclusive for all.

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