'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.


February 23, 2017 12.34pm

I own property as a landlord and I have rented, and I do the right thing by my tenants (Christmas gifts, fix everything promptly, don't gouge them) because if I don't have them, I have no rent but I still have to pay the mortgage on it. Therefore, they are worth their weight in gold to me.

When I rented, I did the right thing, but you always lived in fear that you might end up on the street - "what if I can't get a lease renewed because the landlord wants to sell the place ?" is a thought I often had. I don't have family here and a lot of other migrants / students don't have that support / safety net either.

But not just Australian renters have issues, take a look at international students and new migrants, many of whom are unfamiliar with their rights here or what is considered "normal" here and some landlords take advantage of that.

I've heard stories from fellow migrants of some landlords / agents who have stepped WAY over their jurisdiction and threatened to kick them out or call DIMIA (Immigration), saying that they'd get them deported because they'd broken tenancy laws for not cleaning the house well enough when they inspected it or because they were leaving and would have no fixed address. It's a breach of visa conditions for not notifying them within 14 days of your new address and you CAN get deported for it if it's serious enough.

I know of cases where there were several people in a house and a 'room' was created by the landlord hanging a curtain up (a female staying there with another, unrelated male in the room) and charging rent for it, or seven Indian guys living in a three bedroom house. It's not only wrong, it's criminal.

The landlords who do these things are scum, yet treat their tenants the same way. Real estate agents are the worst because they don't have to try hard to rent a house and they manipulate you and play you off against other - "offer $20 more per week, you'll get it". I was once shown a house for rent that someone had already signed up to two days earlier wasting my time and then "bait and switched" for another house nearby.

Especially when it comes to bond repayment and houses being "clean enough", they act very unreasonably. They give the rest of us who DO the right thing a bad name.

Robert Z
November 7, 2017 7.45pm

These things happened with me/ my family too.. in my opinion the law must be reviewed as many real estate agents act the wrong way should be, like not respecting the tenants privacy, breach the law, acting like superiors, & they forget that if therer were no tenants they have no job to do??
In addition, new migrants that don't know the law they help agents breaking the law without knowing that & agents are happy that people don't know their rights,.. even as by law agents give tenants the booklet !! but without explaining , etc..
Any way this is a big problem that concern tenants, landlords & local authorities & must do the needful to prevent future problems


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