AFTER the announcement of 55 new jobs at the OTR retail development in Stawell, rental housing supply is in the spotlight.
Real estate agents have expressed their concerns as rental shortages become a "massive problem" in the wake of more projects announced for the region.
Stawell's Monaghan's Real Estate director Terry Monaghan said there wasn't stock available for tenants to rent.
"Daily, we would get phone calls from potential tenants looking for houses," he said.
"Last week we listed a two-bedroom property for rent and had interest straight away. We had a total of 15 inquiries for the one property in a week.
"We're in desperate need of extra rental stock. Some new subdivisions in town would be a big help. This is not a new issue, as it's been going on for three or four years - (but) we're losing a number of people to the town each year as a result."
Mr Monaghan said there was a delay involved in developing more housing and getting people into them.
"Developers' confidence to invest in the region hasn't been there, but now it is. We're left playing catch up," he said.
"The facilities, infrastructure and job opportunities here are good but we need the properties to be able to support that. We are looking for both small investors and large investors who have the capability of building developments."
Ararat Ray White property manager Bec Phillips said the agency had two open houses in the past week.
"Fifty people came through two rental properties which were open for inspection," she said.
"I know a number of those people were from Stawell looking for accommodation options.
"We have had some properties become available as some companies have moved on from the area, but we have also had some inquiries from other businesses with upcoming projects."
Many major projects have already started, or are earmarked for the region - which will create a large number of jobs. Northern Grampians and Pyrenees shires and Ararat Rural City Council have partnered with AMES Australia to attract migrant families to relocate to the region to help fill those roles.
To take on these jobs, the families require long-term rental options to successfully settle, but the lack of rental options prevents this and also jeopardises the local industry's efforts to grow.
Northern Grampians Shire councillor Tony Driscoll said the job opportunities were "somewhat an embarrassment of riches".
"To fully capitalise on the developments and the benefits it brings, we really need additional housing," he said.
"The Opportunities Pyrenees, Ararat and Northern Grampians (OPAN) project has allowed us to look at different ways to engage with developers and investors to hopefully increase the number of properties for purchase and rent within our region."
Ararat Rural City Council chief executive Tim Harrison said a council representative attended a Build to Rent conference this week to build the council's networks in the hope of attracting new investment to the region.
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"The housing shortage feeds into being able to attract new residents and a strong professional workforce to the area, so it is an important issue to tackle," he said.
Ararat Central Motel owner Cindy Berandi said her vacancies were filling with businesses seeking longer-term accommodation options.
"We have tradesman filling up our rooms because renting a house isn't an option for some businesses," she said.
"We are also housing emergency accommodation. I have had people stay here for six weeks and another for over two months.
"There is no other accommodation for them. A service has provided them with accommodation at my motel because there isn't anywhere else for them to go."
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