Canberra’s rental crisis is forcing many to spend weeks searching for a home as prices go beyond ‘affordable’

Finding a rental property in Canberra at this time of year is almost always a battle, as hordes of people flock to the national capital to start university and take up new jobs.

But as the country remains in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, there was hope among prospective tenants that this year would be less brutal.

It’s not. In fact, it’s worse.

“The market is crazy,” real estate agent Mel Brill said.

“It just has a mind of its own at the moment.”

While COVID-19 has halted the usual influx of international arrivals, more Australians are relocating to Canberra from interstate than agents expected.

And the mass exodus from the territory that usually happens at this time of year is not occurring, with most Canberrans seemingly happy to stay put.

From northside to southside, inspections have been drawing record crowds and more applications than agents can handle.

And, because demand for rental properties is so high, house hunters have even been offering well above the asking price to increase their chances of success.

“I had 30 groups through a house in Ainslie that was advertised for $620 and I was getting offers at $750 — it was ridiculous,” Ms Brill said.

Low supply + high demand = $$$

Demand for property in Canberra is high.(ABC News: Toby Hunt)

According to data from CoreLogic, Canberra is currently the most expensive city for renters in the country.

The median weekly rent for a house in the capital is $657 — up 3.6 per cent since 2019.

Apartment rents are also increasing but not as quickly, with the average now $473 per week.

Hannah Gill, president of the Real Estate Institute of the ACT (REIACT), said the housing and rental markets live by a simple equation of supply and demand.

When supply is low, demand becomes high, causing prices to skyrocket.

“Data released this week showed a 1.1 per cent vacancy rate, which is just not a sustainable vacancy rate,” Ms Gill, said.

House hunters at breaking point

Kellee looks down at a box she is packing.
Kellee Roberts finally secured a rental property after weeks of searching.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

Single mother Kellee Roberts had not rented in more than a decade and was not prepared for the angst that finding a new home in Canberra would bring.

“I’ve been to inspections where there are 40 and 50 people at them,” Ms Roberts said.

Ms Roberts has been looking for a rental property since selling her home in Gowrie last November.

She applied for more than 10 properties in two weeks and was rejected from every one.

“I’d like to think being a single parent doesn’t work against me, but it probably does,” Ms Roberts said.

“Only having one income in a family, people have that concern that you’re not as financially secure and I do feel like it does go against me.”

It shouldn’t, RIEACT’s Ms Gill said.

“When we’re looking for a tenant, all we should be looking for is their capacity to care for the property and pay the rent,” Ms Gill said.

“So, how many kids they have, how many pets they have, what they do for a living, none of that should actually come into play.”

It got to the point where Ms Roberts had less than a week to find somewhere to live.

She wasn’t sleeping and was overwhelmed with stress.

Then she finally got the news she had been waiting for — she was approved for a home in Rivett and is scheduled to move in this week.

“I’m very, very relieved,” she said.

Battle of the uni students

Hannah smiles, standing at a Canberra bus stop.
ANU student Hannah Young says the rental market is competitive.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

For two months, ANU student Hannah Young has spent every spare moment looking for a house to move into with three friends.

“We have all come from living on campus and it’s just been so hard because there are so many students doing the same thing,” Ms Young said.

“We’ve just been staring at the apps and real estate websites, waiting for houses to come on the market.”

The group has been to more than 30 inspections and submitted at least 15 applications.

“Because, if you’re offering what they’re asking for, you’ve got no shot, especially if you’re a student group, because that’s the only way you’re going to seem more attractive than families and professionals.”

In the past week, Hannah and her friends finally had some luck — they were approved for a four-bedroom house in Ainslie.

“I still feel such disbelief — I can’t believe we have a house, and it’s such a relief to delete the real estate apps,” Ms Young said.

The good news didn’t come cheaply, though.

The house was advertised for $800 per week but the group had to offer $200 more to secure it.

And the only reason they are able to afford that is because their parents are chipping in.

“This whole time I’ve been thinking, ‘Oh, woe is me’ but most student groups wouldn’t be getting parental support,” she said.

“And they’re having to compete with groups who have parents throwing money at the situation.”

Everything, everywhere being snapped up quickly

Grace Hooper smiles in front of a sign that says 'Independent'.
Independent Property Group general manager of property management Grace Hooper.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

It is not only houses that are hot property in Canberra, with demand for units also soaring.

“Honestly, nothing is hard to move at the moment,” Grace Hooper, Independent Property Group’s general manager of property management, said.

“We’ve had a few large developments in Canberra — one in Braddon and one in Kingston — and they have rented extremely quickly.

“Usually with developments we do see, because there’s a large volume, they do take a little longer. But at the moment, that’s just not the case.”

But while competition is fierce, agents want would-be tenants to know that it is not always the highest bid that wins.

“Sometimes there’s a better fit or something else an owner is looking for, and most landlords will forgo $10 or $20 dollars for a tenant they feel really happy with in their property.”

Border-hopping investors

While interest in Canberra as a place to live may be high, investors are starting to look elsewhere, according to experts.

Ms Gill said there were for a number of reasons for that.

Hannah stands in a stylish kitchen, smiling.
President of the Real Estate Institute of the ACT (REIACT) Hannah Gill.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

“If you’re looking at rents alone, Canberra’s a great place to invest and it always has been,” Ms Gill said.

“But if you’re looking at running costs and some of the other elements that tie into holding property in Canberra — land taxes and the balance of tenant and landlord rights, for example — that’s where it becomes a little bit murky.”

Ms Gill said those concerns meant investors were increasingly looking at areas beyond the the ACT border.

She said that was a huge concern because supply was already so strained and rental stress had become increasingly common.

“Housing needs to be a right, not a privilege,” she said.

“That creates a significant flow-on effect for rental stress and the way people can live in Canberra.”

Thank you for stopping by and checking out this news release about Australian Capital Territory news titled “Canberra’s rental crisis is forcing many to spend weeks searching for a home as prices go beyond ‘affordable'”. This news article is presented by My Local Pages Australia as part of our Australian news services.

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Coronavirus forcing English football into reckoning as Steve Bruce says it is ‘morally wrong’ to keep playing

After a string of postponed games and dozens of players going into self-isolation and with a new, more infectious strain of the virus on the rise, English football faces a COVID-19 reckoning.

The UK recorded 68,000 positive tests and a new record of 1,325 COVID-19 deaths on Friday.

Leaders have issued warnings hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed.

But English professional sporting competitions have been permitted to keep playing while the rest of the country is unable to head into work or go to school.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce says it is “morally” wrong for games to continue and West Bromwich Albion’s Sam Allardyce says a two-week “circuit breaker” should be considered.

But Spurs boss Jose Mourinho says postponing any more games could cause an “impossible” backlog for clubs.

The football leagues plan to keep the show going on, with the Premier League issuing a warning to clubs they will discipline players who breach its strict coronavirus rules.

Here’s why the situation may come to a head.

How has COVID-19 affected English football?

At least 60 games have been postponed across the country so far, with the problem far worse in the lower tiers and in the women’s game.

The Premier League only makes up for three of those matches, but the issues still run deep.

Manchester City and Aston Villa shut their training facilities in recent weeks after positive tests and the latter was forced to field a team of youth players in the FA Cup on Friday after 10 senior players contracted the virus.

The English Football League, which runs the three divisions below the Premier League, reported 112 positive cases out of 3,507 players and staff members who were tested in the latest round of checks. That is an infection rate of more than 3 per cent.

EFL clubs playing in the FA Cup — Derby, Shrewsbury, Brentford and Middlesbrough — were all missing players due to COVID-19.

Thank you for dropping by My Local Pages and checking this news update about Australian Capital Territory and Australian news called “Coronavirus forcing English football into reckoning as Steve Bruce says it is ‘morally wrong’ to keep playing”. This news release was presented by MyLocalPages as part of our local and national news services.

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Gunman shoots one at California shopping mall forcing police staff and customers to shelter in place

BREAKING NEWS: Gunman shoots one at California shopping mall forcing police to order staff and customers to shelter in place

  • A suspect opened fire inside the Great Mall in Milpitas on Saturday evening
  • One man was shot but the it sent crowds of shoppers running for cover
  • Shoppers and employees were then told to shelter in place in various stores
  • The condition of the victim or the whereabouts of the suspect are not known

San Francisco Bay Area police are investigating a shooting at a shopping mall outside San Jose on Saturday evening.  

Employees and customers inside the Great Mall in Milpitas were asked to shelter in place as officers responded to the situation according to the Milpitas Police Department.

‘Search teams are systematically searching all stores that were sheltering in place, and will be escorting employees and customers out into the parking lot,’ Milpitas Police said in a tweet.

‘Officers and detectives remain on scene and are actively investigating this incident.’ 

Santa Clara County Sheriff officers investigate a shooting incident at the Great Mall in Milpitas, California on Saturday

One woman on Twitter posted video of her encounter during the shooting and lockdown

One woman on Twitter posted video of her encounter during the shooting and lockdown

Police had shoppers and workers at the mall shelter in place until the threat was over

Police had shoppers and workers at the mall shelter in place until the threat was over

Milpitas Police Department Lt. Tyler Jamison would not comment on the condition of the victim or the whereabouts of the suspect.

‘Right now, we’re not releasing any more information,’ he said to the LA Times. ‘We’re having everyone shelter in place until officers finish their investigation and their search.’

Jamison said it was unclear if the shooting was simply an isolated incident or if the suspect intended to hurt others at the mall.

Personnel from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the scene which lies about 8 miles north of downtown San Jose. 

‘We started running,’ witness Angelo Palma said to NBC News. ‘Everyone starts running. A shooting, everyone just started running. People were running forward, people were running back. People were falling. It was hectic.’  

Police respond to the scene of a reported active shooter at the Great Mall in Milpitas near San Jose

Police respond to the scene of a reported active shooter at the Great Mall in Milpitas near San Jose

Shoppers are pictured leaving the shopping mall after what must have been a scary encounter

Shoppers are pictured leaving the shopping mall after what must have been a scary encounter

Police release customers from the Great Mall in Milpitas, California after reports of an active shooter were made

Police release customers from the Great Mall in Milpitas, California after reports of an active shooter were made


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Bartleby – How the pandemic is forcing managers to work harder | Business

BUSINESSES ARE still struggling to understand which of the pandemic’s effects will be temporary and which will turn out to be permanent. Three new reports attempt to analyse these longer-term trends. One is from Glassdoor, a website that allows workers to rank their employers. Another is from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a management consultancy. The third is from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), a British professional body. Read together, they imply that firms stand to benefit—but that managers’ lives are about to get more difficult.

One change that is all but certain to last is employees spending more of their time working at home. The Glassdoor report finds that less commuting has improved employee health and morale. Splitting the week between the home and the office is also overwhelmingly popular with workers: 70% of those surveyed wanted such a combination, 26% wanted to stay at home and just 4% desired a full-time return to the office. Perhaps as a consequence, remote work has not dented productivity—and indeed improved it in some areas. Flexible work schedules can be a cheap way to retain employees who have child-care and other home responsibilities.

Telecommuting offers other potential cost savings, and not just the reduced need for office space. Remote workers do not need to live in big cities where property is expensive. If they live in cheaper towns and suburbs, companies need not pay them as much. Glassdoor estimates that software engineers and developers who leave San Francisco could eventually face salary cuts of 21-25%; those quitting New York could expect reductions of 10-12%. As the report points out, remote employees are, in essence, competing with a global workforce and are thus in a much weaker bargaining position.

This point is reinforced by the BCG report, which finds that the pandemic has increased the willingness of companies to work with freelancers. Previously, many managers worried that legal and compliance issues prevented them from using outside staff. The pandemic forced firms to adjust their business models rapidly, and simultaneously led to growth in the pool of talented freelancers, as full-time employees had to be laid off. BCG says that “by embracing flexibility in whom they hire, internally or externally, [companies] can finally speed up operations and deliver faster on strategy.”

Despite its advantages, a remote workforce, or one consisting of more outsiders, brings challenges for managers, as the third report demonstrates. The CMI surveyed 2,300 managers and employees. The results highlight just how important effective communication, and concern for workers’ well-being, is to good management. They also unearthed an interesting difference of perspective: nearly half of senior executives thought they were engaging employees more in decision-making since the pandemic, but only 27% of employees agreed.

The survey also shows that the experience of remote working has not been uniform. Of those working virtually, 69% of women with children want to work at least one day from home when the pandemic ends, compared with 56% of men with kids. These women have had less contact with managers during the lockdown than their male peers have had, suggesting they have been neglected.

Strikingly, 48% of British staff from minority ethnic backgrounds thought that workplace culture had got better during the crisis, against 34% of all employees. This suggests something was wrong with office culture beforehand: the CMI survey found that black employees were more likely than any other ethnic group to feel their manager did not trust them to undertake their role.

So managers have a lot more work to do in responding to the pandemic. Executives need to tailor their behaviour to individual employees’ needs. Ironically, though managers may have feared that remote working would allow employees to slack, it may be that managers have not been up to the challenge. Bosses may have spent too much time videoconferencing and not enough speaking directly with subordinates.

Ask someone what it is like to work at a firm and they may respond by saying what the offices are like—whether they are cramped, in a nice location and so on. In a world of remote working, employees may stress instead how the employer communicates with them. Not so much “management by walking around” as management by phoning—or Zooming—around. Time to get dialling.

Editor’s note: Some of our covid-19 coverage is free for readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. For more stories and our pandemic tracker, see our hub

This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “Managing by Zooming around”

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Busking for bail-outs – Covid-19 is forcing the arts in Europe back into the arms of government | Europe

WEARING A LONG robe and a silver plastic crown, Cameron Burg was dancing on a Swiss mountaintop with a pair of DJs and several hundred ecstatic electronica fans. Behind him, bubble-cars were disgorging men in leather jackets and women in face paint. It was mid-September and Caprices, a dance-music festival in Crans-Montana, had just kicked off after a five-month delay. It had been cancelled by covid-19, along with the rest of Europe’s electronica festivals, and fans were suffering withdrawal. “After a while you miss the PLUR,” said Mr Burg, using a ravers’ shorthand for peace, love, unity and respect.

Chalets and restaurants in Crans-Montana count on Caprices, which usually draws 6,000 festival-goers in April, to fill the gap between the end of the ski season and the start of the golf and mountain-biking ones. When the festival was postponed, local businesses reworked it to satisfy health authorities, limiting it to 1,000 guests divided into three zones. In August they got the go-ahead. They also got more than SFr100,000 ($110,200) in government subsidies and loans.

In Europe, where there is culture, there is government. Orchestras and museums have long relied on state, not private, sponsorship. Theatres and art festivals are often owned or bankrolled by municipalities. Audiovisual ventures benefit from film funds and state broadcasters. Spending on cultural services runs to about 1% of the total government budget in the average EU country. An exact comparison is hard to find, but in America 0.7% of government spending goes to cultural services, recreation and religion; in France and Germany that figure is 2.3%.

Covid-19 hit this cheerful scene like the last act of Götterdämmerung, even before this week’s news of fresh lockdowns on Germany and France. Exhibitions and live events have had to close or restrict admissions. In France output in the culture sector is expected to shrink by 25% in 2020, compared with a drop in overall GDP of 8.7%. Germany expects GDP to fall by 5.8% and cultural output to contract by 13-23%. Governments have responded with emergency spending to keep the arts from collapsing, tying them even closer to the state.

Take Germany. For years its government has pressed cultural institutions to privatise, with only modest results. Covid has pushed in the opposite direction. In June the federal government announced a €1bn “Restart Culture” programme, including €250m to help private institutions like cinemas and theatres with social distancing, €50m for various arts funds and €20m for dance. On top of that, the culture ministry’s budget for 2021 will rise by €120m, or 6.6%. Germany’s states are helping too: North Rhine-Westphalia has set up an €80m covid-19 culture fund, significantly more than its normal annual culture budget.

France’s interventions are even bigger, some €5bn to the end of 2021. Fully €950m goes to shore up a peculiar French institution: intermittents du spectacle, part-time performers and technicians who are the backbone of many shows, and get government pay when they have no work. Since the cancellation of nearly all live events makes it impossible to amass enough hours to qualify, the government has waived the minimums until August 31st 2021. Billions more are budgeted for loans to cultural establishments and reimbursement for projects that cannot be staged.

In the Netherlands, arts institutions have been cutting staff for decades, while liberal governments have provided tax incentives to go freelance. Almost 50% of Dutch in the culture sector are now self-employed, compared with a third in Germany. When covid-19 hit, that caused problems: whereas the Dutch government guaranteed furloughed workers 80% of their salaries, freelancers got only €1,050 per month. Meanwhile drama companies and orchestras faced bankruptcy, which would leave the cities that own the country’s magnificent concert halls and theatres with no tenants to pay the rent. To fend that off, the centre-left D66 party pushed through two spending packages for the culture sector totalling €700m, nearly doubling the ministry’s budget.

Not all the responses to the virus have been defensive. When Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party replaced the hard-right Northern League party in government last year, it revived a scheme to liberate the country’s museums from central control. That persuaded Eike Schmidt, the German director of Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, to stay on rather than returning to Vienna as he had planned. When the pandemic hit, the museum reopened after a few months by redistributing artworks and visitors to smaller museums in towns throughout Tuscany. Ticket revenues have recovered to within 90% of normal.

Mr Schmidt sees this as an opportunity to spread culture around and shift away from the mega-tourism that has blighted European cities. (“Venice, Florence and Barcelona weren’t constructed as theme parks,” he says.) The virus is forcing other countries to think small, too. Hungary, which under Viktor Orban’s populist rule has become the European country that spends the second-largest share of its budget on culture (2.7%), set up a €14.5m fund for small rock concerts, live-streamed to fans. In the Netherlands, a 30-person audience limit has closed the national theatre in Amsterdam. But avant-garde theatres with lower overheads that are happy to perform to an audience of 30 are soldiering on.

With or without the pandemic, the state’s role in culture was always going to be big in Europe. It is hard to imagine private donors preserving the continent’s spectacular architectural heritage. Symphony orchestras lose money everywhere; America’s corporate sponsorships are partly government subsidies disguised as tax deductions. The Dutch practice of having stage productions tour every midsized town would be impossible without state subsidies for local culture. So would the European landscape of high-art festivals such as those in Avignon, Montreux and Salzburg.

When those festivals will have live audiences again is anyone’s guess, the more so as Europe is now deep in a second wave of covid-19. Caprices was not a promising sign. Between mid-September and mid-October the number of daily new cases in Valais, the canton including Crans-Montana, rose from a dozen to 275. A regional hospital said it had found a link between ten of those who tested positive: they had attended Caprices.

Editor’s note: Some of our covid-19 coverage is free for readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. For more stories and our pandemic tracker, see our hub

This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline “Busking for bail-outs”

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Flash flood hits Tumbarumba in NSW, forcing evacuation of home and caravan park

A man aged in his 70s had to be rescued from a house after rapidly rising waters caused localised flooding in parts of New South Wales, including in the Snowy Mountains region.

A flash flood hit the town of Tumbarumba, with the local creek — part of the Murray catchment within the Murray Darling basin — swelling up and flooding the local oval, caravan park and roads.

“We have had one house which required a flood rescue, so we had to .… get them through the water,” NSW State Emergency Service spokesman Ian Leckie said.

“There has been significant flooding around the sports field, caravan park and around Hampton Avenue.

“Water has got into the sewer mains, which means drinking water is contaminated.”

The flash flood hit after 20mm of rain fell on the town of Tumbarumba.(Supplied: NSW SES)

The Snowy Valleys council had been moving people out of the caravan park since the beginning of the week because of the forecast heavy rain, Mr Leckie said.

He said the floodwaters were expected to move into the Upper Murray area tomorrow, impacting nearby Jingellic.


There have been 100 calls for help across the state, with rain and strong winds impacting homes in a wide area including Sydney, the NSW SES said.

A severe thunderstorm warning is in place for damaging winds, large hailstones and heavy rainfall for people across a wide area of NSW, Australian Capital Territory, including parts of the Hunter, Southern Tablelands, Riverina, and Snowy Mountains districts.

The state’s south west and central west has seen widespread rainfall today and a cold southerly change is expected to hit eastern parts of the state overnight.

“We are expecting a southerly change around midnight, with more storms expected across the state tonight,” the NSW Bureau of Meteorology’s Helen Reid said.

The BOM said there had been a combined rainfall of about 30mm over the past 24 hours.

A road covered by a flood.
The SES has received about 100 calls for help around the state.(Supplied: NSW SES)

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East Troublesome Fire Grows to 125,000 Acres, Forcing Evacuations Overnight

The East Troublesome fire in Grand County, Colorado, covered more than 125,000 acres by Thursday morning, October 22, spurring mandatory evacuation orders overnight, reports said. This footage shows the flames at the top of Granby Mesa on Wednesday evening, shared by resident CarrieAnn Fain, who had to evacuate her home. The Grand County Sheriff’s Office had issued a mandatory evacuation order on Wednesday after the fire crossed Colorado State Highway 125. Evacuees were instructed to head south of Highway 34. The fire was reportedly around 19,000 acres on Wednesday evening, but grew to over 125,677 acres, more than six times its size, by Thursday morning. Credit: CarrieAnn Fain via Storyful

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Spain declares state of emergency forcing opposition Madrid officials to restore restrictions amid COVID-19 second wave

Spain’s government has declared a state of emergency in Madrid, wresting control of efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19 from local authorities in a region experiencing one of Europe’s most significant coronavirus outbreaks.

The step, which took immediate effect and lasts for two weeks, forced Madrid authorities to restore restrictions on travel that had been introduced by the national government but were struck down the previous day by a Madrid court ruling.

That successful legal challenge by Madrid officials was part of a long quarrel between the country’s main political parties over their coronavirus response.

Those differences, and the changing rules, have often dismayed and confused local residents.

“Well, it is all very nauseating,” said Vicente de la Torre, a 22-year-old Madrid mechanic.

The government announced the state of emergency after an emergency Cabinet meeting in the wake of the court ruling.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said the previous measures would come back into force and that only the legal framework for them was changing.

He said it was “undeniable” that there is community transmission in the Madrid region, not just isolated outbreaks, at a crucial juncture as winter approaches and respiratory problems increase.

The Madrid region’s 14-day infection rate of 563 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents is more than twice Spain’s national average of 256.

It is five times the European average rate of 113 for the week ending September 27.

A Madrid court upheld the regional Government’s appeal, saying the national Government’s imposition of restrictions violated people’s fundamental liberties.(AP: Paul White)

The national Government had ordered police in Madrid to fine people if they left their municipalities without justification. The measure covers 4.8 million residents in Madrid and nine suburban towns.

But Madrid’s conservative regional Government opposed those restrictions, saying they were draconian and hurt the economy.

Madrid’s regional president, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, said her own, more moderate measures were enough to fight COVID-19.

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