Australia’s first national survey of renters shows that many tenants fear eviction, having their rent increased, or being blacklisted from renting residential property in future, a situation which leaves them too scared to request for basic maintenance services from their landlords.
The survey, a joint effort by Choice, National Shelter and the National Association of Tenant Organisations found that more than 80% of renters operate on a lease that’s less than one year, or don’t have a fixed term.
“That means 83 per cent of people renting potentially not knowing where they’re going to live in 12 months’ time,” says Choice spokesman Matt Levey.
“I think what it shows is that the rental market is an insecure, unaffordable place for very, very many Australians. The consequence of that insecurity and unaffordability is an increase in homelessness,” says Adrian Pisarski, the organisation’s executive officer.
The study which involved more than 1005 renters countrywide found that many of them suffered from anxiety, insecurity and discrimination, with new migrants especially vulnerable to exploitation in the housing market. This situation has been cited as a reason for the increased rates of homelessness, according to National Shelter.
Rod Stowe, the Commissioner for NSW Fair Trading, says they’re engaging community organisations to help them protect tenants’ rights. To this end, Fair Trading has produced a video resource titled: Renting a home: a tenant’s guide to rights and responsibilities.
Stowe says that people should read their lease keenly before putting pen to paper. It is also important to put any request you have in writing when communicating with your landlord or real estate agent.