Fear of eviction, properties in disrepair, just getting by – the experience of renting in Australia
December 2018. The second report commissioned by CHOICE, National Shelter, and the National Association of Tenant Organisations (NATO), that delves into the renting experiences of our country’s renters.
Disrupted reveals that there are three common issues facing renters across the nation:
- poor quality homes and being too afraid to request repairs
- insecure tenancies
- struggling with rental affordability and cost of living pressures
At the launch of the report in Canberra NATO spokesperson Penny Carr (CEO of Tenants’ Queensland) said, “Nearly half of the people who rent in Australia are afraid of eviction if they ask for a repair. That’s not good enough. No-grounds evictions effectively render our other protections useless. You shouldn’t be kicked out of your home because the person who rents it to you can’t be bothered to provide basic maintenance and repairs. Shelter is too important for the livelihood of our families and loved ones – no-grounds evictions must be banned across Australia.”
“Australians have stronger consumer protections when they buy something from their local supermarket than when they spend tens of thousands of dollars renting a home. We’ve got families living with mould all over their homes and left waiting weeks for repairs – this simply isn’t good enough. Under the Australian Consumer Law, Australians know that if we have a problem with something we buy, then we have the right to a repair, refund, or replacement. But when it comes to getting the most basic of our needs – shelter – Australians live in fear. It’s time for consistent and fair laws that guarantee every Australian has a safe, secure and affordable home.” Erin Turner, Director of Campaigns and Communications at CHOICE compares consumer protections and finds renting seriously lacking.
Adrian Pisarski, Executive Officer of National Shelter urges for positive regulation that will benefit everyone, “This new research shows that there’s a major problem with the quality of our homes. 51% of Australians who rent are living in homes that need repairs is unacceptable and we need leadership to turn this around. Property lobbyists fight reform every step of the way, but good regulation helps everyone. Let’s support good landlords by bringing everyone up to their standard. We need a coordinated approach to rental standards, so we can make the relationship between people who rent and those who rent to us a positive one.”
- 51% of people who rent are currently living in a home that needs of repairs.
- 68% of Australians who rent are concerned that a request for repairs could mean a rent increase and 44% are concerned a request for repairs could get them evicted from their homes.
- Nearly 1 in 10 had previously been evicted “without grounds” and nearly 1 in 10 fear they’ll be forced to leave their homes in the next 12 months.
Given the significant fears from Australians about retaliatory “no-grounds” evictions, the report calls for a nationwide ban on the practice:
“Banning no-grounds eviction across Australia would provide more secure housing for Australians who rent. Let’s ensure Australians who rent have the security they need to create homes, build lives and raise families” (pg 19)
In the ACT
It is important to note that the national survey was limited because of resources and the ACT sample size was very small. This means that there are few references to ACT figures. This does not detract from the overall findings that do reflect the experiences relayed to the TU through our advice line and the many community events and other contacts that we have with people renting in the ACT.