'Entrenched culture of fear among renters'
A national survey has painted a bleak picture of the Australian rental market, with tenants reporting insecurity, discrimination and poorly maintained properties.
A study commissioned by Choice, the National Association of Tenant Organisations and National Shelter found half of renters reported experiencing discrimination when applying for a rental property, while one in five have experienced leaking, flooding and issues with mould.
"It's hard to imagine a product or service this poor in any other sector," says Choice CEO Alan Kirkland.
"As consumers of rental properties, tenants have to deal with major quality issues like mould or flooding and are systematically denied access to a timely remedy."
National Association of Tenant Organisations spokesperson Ned Cutcher says renters with more experience in the market were less likely to complain when something went wrong, illustrating "the entrenched culture of fear among renters".
"This is all the more of a concern when you consider the rising number of long-term renters across Australia," he adds.
Three rights you need to know as a tenant
- Under NSW law, landlords are prohibited from requiring you to have carpets professionally cleaned, unless you negotiated it as a condition of keeping pets at the property.
- If the property has an individual water meter, you are liable for your water usage but, in all states except South Australia, you are not liable for supply charges. If you reside in an apartment building with a shared water meter, again in all states except South Australia, you cannot be charged for your water usage.
- You can only be listed on the National Tenancy Database if your rent is in arrears by an amount exceeding the bond or if you have breached your tenancy agreement. While half of Aussie renters fear being added to the database, just 3% reported being blacklisted.