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Tenants share horror stories as report exposes appalling living conditions

Many renters are living in fear that a request for repairs could mean a rent increase, or eviction, new research shows. Photo: Getty
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Renters have taken to social media to share horror stories following the release of a report revealing that Australians who rent are living in substandard conditions and plagued by fear of eviction and rent rises.

The report, ‘Disrupted’: The consumer experience of renting in Australia’, found that 51 per cent of renters in Australia live in a house  that needs repairs. Many are afraid that making a repair request could get them evicted.

The research by leading consumer and tenancy groups CHOICE, National Shelter and the National Association of Tenant Organisations – found that more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of Australian renters worry that making a request for repairs could lead to a rent increase. Some 44 per cent fear such a request might get them evicted.

Nearly one in 10 renters had previously been evicted “without grounds” while a similar number feared they would be forced to leave their homes in the next 12 months.

On Wednesday, renters took to social media to share photos and stories of real life rental nightmares using the hashtag #RentinOz, which trended on Twitter in Australia following the report’s launch.

Renters with a disability face discrimination

The report also shone a spotlight on the discrimination and “additional challenges and barriers” faced by renters with a disability.

People with a disability are almost 2.5 times more likely to experience issues with home inspections from their landlord than other people who rent. In all, 16 per cent had been served a “without grounds” eviction, compared to 9 per cent of all renters, the report found.

“My #RentInOz experiences include having to pay for removalists after a no-grounds eviction – my disability means I can’t do much of this myself,” Twitter user El Gibs wrote.

“I also got needed home modifications knocked back, which would have made my home more accessible. This happens far too often.”

Calls to ban “no-cause” evictions

The report called for a nationwide ban on “no-grounds” evictions.

“Banning no-grounds eviction across Australia would provide more secure housing for Australians who rent,” it said. “Let’s ensure Australians who rent have the security they need to create homes, build lives and raise families.”

The report also highlighted affordability and cost of living pressures, finding many Australian renters lived in a “precarious financial position”.

Two in every five Australians who rent (40 per cent) would find a 10 per cent rent rise “very difficult to afford”, while 43 per cent were finding it difficult to get by on their current income.

National Shelter executive officer Adrian Pisarski said the research showed “there’s a major problem with the quality of our homes”.

“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,” he said.

“We need a co-ordinated approach to rental standards, so we can make the relationship between people who rent and those who rent to us a positive one.”