There are fears Manjimup’s housing crisis could soon get worse if the shire follows through on its advertised housing audit. The Shire of Manjimup has announced it intends to conduct the audit to identify numbers of people living in buildings not approved for habitation such as backyard sheds. However real estate operators report few rentals available and long waiting lists, highlighting the dire prospects for those living in unapproved buildings if the shire cracks down on their use following the audit. The shire meanwhile claims in its advertised notice of the audit that living in unapproved buildings can “pose serious safety and health risks to occupants and could contribute to illnesses or even death”. The action by the shire is in response to an increase in reports of people suspected to be living in unapproved buildings. According to Manjimup Property Management Services owner Dianne Milentis, housing options are incredibly limited and have been for the past 18 months. Mrs Milentis said she was constantly inundated with rental applications and expressions of interest. “I currently have two properties available to rent (and) I’ve already received 10 applications,“ she said. “As for expressions of interest, I have seven from August and already six from September.” Mrs Milentis said she did not expect the state of the market to change “anytime soon”. “There’s just not short-term options,” she said. “I have one client who was forced to leave her current accommodation and with nowhere else to go herself, her husband and her three kids ended up living in a shared house out of one bedroom.” In addition to claiming the risk of “death”, the shire notice advertising the audit said that “using a building in a manner other than what it was approved for could void your insurance”. A search for rentals on online real estate platforms found one option in the greater Manjimup region — a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home in town — and 15 dwellings available to buy ranging from $249,000 to $795,000. Shire of Manjimup president Paul Omodei said while it was “a difficult issue” the shire was “duty bound to respond to it”. “It’s a big issue and from a shire perspective I would expect us to be judicious in the way we apply the rules given there are not a lot of options for people who are caught in that situation,” he said. “Local governments are required to administer the Health Act, the Planning Act and the Building Code. “It’s not something the shire itself imposes, it’s something that is imposed on the shire. Council staff react. They are at least legally and morally obliged to administer those Acts.” The shire is encouraging anyone living in a building not approved as a dwelling to reach out to the building team and discuss what options are available. “My strong advice to people would be to talk to the shire if you think you might be impacted,” Cr Omodei said. “The shire will not kick people out in the cold, not if I’ve got my say. It’s got to be a sensible discussion, trying to have a sensible outcome.” Mr Omodei said the shire had already identified housing as one of the major issues effecting constituents and was actively searching for ways to help mitigate these issues.