Report finds just how shitty renting in Australia actually is

February 16, 2017
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If you mention the words “rental horror story” to students, chances are they’ll have a few terrible experiences or know of friends who've endured hellish conditions. A report released by Choice has confirmed that many young people renting in Australia are experiencing dire rental conditions, with many facing discrimination, unaddressed repairs and a lack of legal protection due to short leases or no lease at all. Sound familiar? Yeah, we thought so.

So what did the report actually find?

The report shows a pretty grim reality for young people renting in Australia. Before even getting into the rental market, renters under the age of 35 reported that they felt discriminated against due to age. With 75 per cent of renters agreeing that the rental market was highly competitive and 61 per cent experiencing issues while searching for a rental property, it’s clear the problem begins as early as the application stage.

The state of rental properties is bad, like really bad

Experienced roaches and mould? You're not alone. Only a quarter of renters said they’d never experienced any issues with their current property. For the rest, it was a fifth of renters who’d experienced leaking or flooding and mould problems that were difficult to remove. Not just facing health risks, renters in poor conditions also experienced issues with security with doors and windows that wouldn’t close (24 per cent) and locks that didn’t work (18 per cent). While 23 per cent of the study participants reached out to landlords and had to wait over a month for a response, just under a quarter of particpants received no response at all. Others (14 per cent) were afraid to report the need for repairs, fearing “adverse consequences” like raised rent or being blacklisted.

Eighty-three per cent of those surveyed don't have a fixed-term lease

Once in an agreement with a landlord for a rental property, the terms of the lease often leave the renter at a disadvantage. The report found that “…very few renters have a fixed-term lease that runs for even just two years”, with 83 per cent of Australians holding no fixed-term rent or leases that were less than 12 months.

Competition is rife

The report also shows that despite recent talk of an over-supply of rental properties, Australia remains a landlord's market with "three quarters of renters believing that competition between applicants is fierce". And with said competition comes the attitude of simply taking what's on offer to avoid ending up with nothing at all. To make things worse, 55 per cent of renters worry they'll need to offer more money to secure a place to live.

Real life rental #HorrorStories

Hijacked spoke to students who have lived in these hellish rental conditions and lived to tell the story (and thankfully GTFO).

Sophie Grosset, 25, University of New South Wales

"The place was infested with mould – I was scrubbing the walls at least twice a month with mould killer to get rid of it. My shoes and clothes in my wardrobe were covered in mould too and when I moved out I had to throw so much stuff out."

Laura O'Donnell*, 22, University of Sydney

"When we moved into the house it was infested with fleas and bugs, which they initially refused to fix, then a week after we moved in they confirmed in writing that they would spray the house at the owner's expense. Six months later they invoiced us for the pest spray and forced us to pay for it.

"We also needed to get a dead tree cut down in our backyard and the property manager confirmed that they were sending an arborist round to do it. When the guy turned up it was actually our LANDLORD (notably NOT an arborist). He tried to pretend he wasn't our landlord, then tried to get our housemate to help him cut down a tree that neither of them were qualified to cut."

Dean Winder, 27, University of New South Wales

“We were in a brand new apartment when the ceiling caved in and the place flooded. We had to vacate for seven days while they were fixing the leak (still having to pay rent). They told us the ceiling was fixed then two months later it happened again, destroying my roommate’s Mac computer.

"We also had a two-month battle with the landlord who insisted on us paying full rent for a half destructed home and expected us to pay full bond when we broke the lease."

*Name changed for privacy reasons

Twitter’s worst #RentInOz horror stories

In response to the report, it's not surprising that Twitter was blowing up with the hashtag #RentInOz with similar experiences. The struggle for renters is real.

Lauren Piggott