Rental properties in Karratha are becoming harder to come by as prices soar and owner-occupier rates skyrocket.

According to the Real Estate Institute of WA website, the price of most rental properties has increased between $40 to $70 a week since the beginning of the year and the number of homes available to lease has declined from 140 to 40 in just over six months.

LJ Hooker Karratha director Rachel Ross said the demand for rental properties was increasing quickly and the supply wasn’t there.

“B-grade tenants are finding it difficult to get accommodation and we have had some tenants apply for properties that are not suitable just to get somewhere to live,” she said.

“Properties on Kallama Parade in Millars Well, which are three by twos (bedrooms, bathrooms), were renting for around the $380 mark at the beginning of the year but now some of them are up to $450 a week.”

Pilbara Real Estate director Rob Sleator said a key reason for the lack of availability was the number of people choosing to make Karratha their home.

“About 95 per cent of our sales in the last 12 months have been to owner occupiers,” he said.

“Karratha used to just be a rental town — people would come up for a few years and then get out but now, they’re are coming up, getting married, having kids and buying a house.”

With a handful of major resource projects starting in the Pilbara over the coming years, demand for places to rent and homes to buy is not slowing down.

Mr Sleator said his agency only had one property available to lease last week and almost 20 people looking for a place. “Those people are starting to think they better buy something otherwise they won’t have anywhere to live,” he said.

“Because of that, stuff we were selling in Bulgarra at $200,000 or $220,000 12 months ago, is now selling for $280,000 to $300,000.”

Ms Ross reiterated that sentiment and said she had 26 people through a single home open a couple of weekends ago.

The figures raise questions over where people will live once the major projects planned for the region begin as only a handful of building applications for new homes have been submitted since the previous mining boom ended with availability of existing properties at its lowest point in years.