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Had a bad experience renting? Tell your story to the media

Hi Community!

We’ll be doing some work on renting next week. We’ll be speaking about renting in Australia, and are looking for people willing to chat to some journalists about their own experiences renting.

If you’ve had a hard time finding a property to rent, or struggled to get problems with your rental property fixed, and would be happy to speak to a journalist about this (and potentially have your picture taken), please let me know!

@NubglummerySnr, tagging you because of your tenancy rights post.

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Thanks for the tag. I’m not happy to be identified in the media with this one though. Had some bad rental experiences, still having a bad experience with the new place we’ve just rented and still having a bad experience with the old one we were booted from. Hard enough trying to find a new place to live when things go belly up with landlords without being shown in a public media report bagging those who I’m trying to secure a property to rent from. Soz. Happy to be an unidentified source though.

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No worries - this is part of the problem, it’s really hard for renters to speak up without fear of reprisals.

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I can relate our story from our previous rental but like @NubglummerySnr we would have to remain anonymous for the moment until we have secured a stable rental situation. PM me if you would like the details of the case but it will take a day or so after that for us to respond.

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I’m in Dept. Of Housing in need of serious painting job done on my ceilings especially above my stove with the paint often falling into the food, but that’s not really what I’m writing about. I laugh at it now but several years ago we had a very strict real estate agent who done inspections. She was extremely very picky. I once got into trouble because the kids left a soccer ball out the back. She’d look in wardrobes, stove etc and if she found the tiniest speck of dust she’s have a fit. I had friends who worked at other estate agents and other places and one time they all inspected the house and couldn’t find a thing, but, there was one little clean strand of a cobweb which you would have to strain to see, the agent wrote on the report ‘cobwebs’.

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I’m happy to share our horror stories here, but you’ll have to not use my real name or location if you use them as examples.

I once lived in a NSW dept of housing house which the department decided needed a new hot water service as the old one that lived in the ceiling was obsolete. The plumbers they sent failed to correctly disconnect the old one, and while we were out of town for a couple of weeks the old pipes burst, which were in the roof cavity. The entire house was a write off by the time any of the neighbours noticed the water gushing out. After finding a new house to live in the department actually sent us a bill for asbestos removal costs from the destroyed house due to the condition we left the house in. We went to see the local office and they subsequently wiped the debt for us, saying that the housing officer responsible had been transferred elsewhere for sending fraudulent debt notices to other tenants as well.

We then moved to Queensland. renting a house via a real estate agent, with my (young at the time) family, who are mostly on the Autism Spectrum. Everything was fine until the real estate was sold to new owners. All of a sudden we had to start paying rent to a new bank, and had to pay for a new rent book instead of being provided with one for free. We were also informed that we’d have to pay for replacement rent books when we’d run out of pages in the current one. The only other choice we were given was to pay into a third party rent collection agency which would attract a $10 fee every time we paid our rent. A few months later the landlord and his wife came into the backyard and took over the lock up garage because they wanted to travel overseas and needed somewhere to store their own furniture. They built a dividing wall that took well over three quarters of the space and padlocked it. For this we received no decrease in our rent. It was actually increased after we’d lost the use of most of the garage. There wasn’t anything we could do because our lease was about to expire, and if we didn’t like it they could legally simply not renew it. So we got our lease renewed by not complaining or grumbling or taking legal action and got on with ourselves. 4 months later, the real estate informed us that the owners had come back early and wanted us to leave at the end of the lease so they could move in. We were also due for a general inspection and the real estate agent came to the house with a fine tooth comb. They couldn’t find any faults so they made up their own ones, complaining of cobwebs that we couldn’t see, then sent us an eviction notice a week later because the trees in the backyard had dropped some leaves on the ground, with a notice to reinspect the property a week later, even though they weren’t entitled to do another one for another three months. We spoke to the local rental authority and they told us that no matter what we did, they could simply not renew the lease which was due to expire in a couple of months anyway, so taking action wouldn’t accomplish much. We ended up having to look for a new house early and left, without being able to get the bond back, because the real estate decided the non existent cobwebs and the leaves would cost the price of the bond to rectify, plus they listed other non existent problems that we couldn’t show we weren’t responsible for.

More recently, my current partner and I left public housing for a bigger house after my children had come into my care and what we had wasn’t big enough for an extended family. The first house we moved into had leaky pipes behind the bathroom walls, which ended up bleeding into the main bedroom wall, damaging it and creating a huge crack. The bedroom had a horrible mould problem after that, and no matter how many times we’d bring it to the real estate’s attention, nothing would be done. Eventually another of my sons came into my care and we needed an extra bedroom, so we had to move again. We scrubbed the walls, of the bedroom as best we could to remove the mould. We scrubbed the kitchen clean, every wall and cupboard, door and floor. Scrubbed the oven spotless inside and out. The real estate then decided that we had to pay for mould removal and that the oven had a few spots, which were there before we moved in and were impossible to remove and wouldn’t release our bond money. I pointed out our emails informing them of the mould problem and the cause that they wouldn’t fix, which was “duly noted”, but we still had to pay the bill for a cleaner to come and do the oven before we could get our bond back.

The house we moved to needed repairs before we moved in, which we could never get done. It had a downstairs flat that was filthy and dirty. We cleaned and scrubbed it until it was spotless so that my partner’s eldest son, who is on the Autism Spectrum could live in it and have a little independence while we still looked after him as carers. The landlady worked at a local school and would often take her students for walks by the house just so she could spy on us. She was horrified when she learnt we had someone living in the downstairs flat instead of using it as a rumpus room. We were then sent additional papers to sign for the lease to state that we wouldn’t use the inside staircase that led from the flat to the house, and that we wouldn’t use the oven in the downstairs flat. What could we do? It’s hard enough trying to find a house that’s big enough when you have 4 teenage sons, 3 of them being on the Autism Spectrum in varying degrees. We signed the papers in the hopes we’d be able to show we were not going to be troublesome and would be able to renew the lease when it expired. Nothing ever got repaired. It got to the stage where a roof looked like it might collapse from the neglect to the property and we simply said, we would like it fixed so the house wouldn’t collapse and it would preserve the property for the landlady. Just before the lease expired, we were given our marching orders because the landlady decided there were so many repairs that needed doing, including a full rewiring of the house at the recommendation of the real estate’s own electrician, that she needed the house empty in order to carry out such extensive work. Usually when she did approve a repair, she’d insist on using her own work people instead of the real estate’s people, who would then say there’s nothing wrong and would then just bugger off leaving us with the house still in a state of bad repair, and usually going out of their way to treat us with contempt for even attempting to say things needed repairs. The only reason the real estate sent their own electrician that one time was because the landlady wouldn’t send her own people for a flickering light bulb socket. That’s when it was discovered the wiring needed replacing.

So we found a new house, and the real estate refused to deal with her ever again. She had new tenants within a week, so there were obviously no repairs happening that required the house to be empty.

The next house was all good until just before last Christmas when the landlady decided she was in financial difficulty and said the lease would not be renewed so she could sell the property. We then had to put up with potential buyers coming to the house every day, as long as the real estate gave us 2 days notice as stated in the laws, while we tried to find a new house to live in and then tried to pack our belongings getting ready for the move when we did find a new house. After we moved in January the real estate informed us that the house hadn’t sold and that the landlady was now panicking because she no longer had a rental income to pay for her mortgage, so it would therefore be put back on the rental market. We’d already moved, so it had nothing to do with us. Again, we scrubbed the house spotless and had it cleaner than when we moved in. After handing in the keys we hadn’t heard about getting our bond money refunded, so contacted the real estate who said they’d done a final inspection and found damage to the property, which we knew nothing about and that the house wasn’t clean enough. Not even the stove, which I managed to actually get spotless where spots had previously existed. We noted that there had been two open houses since we had handed in the keys and that we weren’t responsible for damage caused after we’d moved out, and also pointed out the condition report that showed the house was less clean when we moved in. It was two weeks since we’d move out and no attempt had been made by the real estate to let us know of any problems until we asked them to release the bond money, Originally they had only told us that there was one hole in a bedroom wall and that the oven, shower and laundry were not clean, which we made sure were spotless before we handed in the keys two weeks earlier. After querying these we were sent photos of not one, but two walls with holes in them. Again, we had no knowledge of any of them. The real estate said they’d done the final inspection on the day after we’d handed in the keys, which was a day before the open houses occurred. So I queried why she had only just brought the second hole to our attention instead of when she first reported any problems. She said she hadn’t noticed it during the inspection, but saw it in the photos she had taken on the day when she’d looked at them later… if she hadn’t seen it, then why did she have a photo of it? None of this made sense. The metadata on the photos she sent via email stated that the photos were taken on the day she said the final inspection had occurred though. Maybe she manipulated the metadata. Easy enough to do if you know how with the correct program at your fingertips. Today we noticed that the real estate site had changed the for sale listing to show that the house had sold a week ago. I emailed the agent to say the house had obviously sold as is, without any repairs taking place as she hadn’t actually organised the repairs yet. She then emailed me back to say the house was still up for sale and hadn’t been sold at all and that she was now organising repairs, which we’d have to pay for once they sent us an invoice in order to get our bond money back. So I sent her the link which showed the house was actually sold (on their own website I might add) and she replied saying that yes it was. Apparently her saying it was still up for sale was a “typo” and that we still had to leave the house in the same condition we’d begun the tenancy in. She was now putting the repairs on priority because she must have suddenly realised she’d have to hand the keys over to the new owner soon, and can’t actually charge for repairs where no repairs have or will be made by the real estate. So we’re still waiting on an invoice, three weeks after moving out, in order to be able to get our bond money back.

The new house we are in is also proving to be a pain as far as both the real estate and the landlady is concerned (We seem to get landladies a lot). The real estate is situated in northern Tasmania while the house is in southern Tassie. We therefore have to do everything long distance. Contacting the real estate is very difficult as she either doesn’t answer her calls, or her messages, or rarely answers emails. She then says it’s very difficult to contact the landlady and that she rarely gets a reply from her. We’ve had a few things fixed since we moved in, but the majority of things that were wrong with the house, that really do need attending to, are being ignored. We really are tired of moving and really hope that this house can be kept in some sort of good repair so we can renew our lease for once. We always pay our rent on time and always have the house spotless and tidy during routine inspections, yet we always get penalised in one way or another by the time the lease needs renewing, or after we’ve left a house for a new one.

And that’s my horror story so far.

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As a US transplant I have often wondered why Australia does not have the corporate owned apartment complexes that are common through the US. Some are flats and some US style townhomes that can be quite large with double garages, rear gardens, and so on. They seem to be good business because there is rental income as well as capital appreciation of the real estate. Does anyone have a sense of why? It appears the tax issues are similar, as are landlord and tenant rights for the most part.

Such corporate owned and managed complexes would seem to address a lot of the issues with dodgy landlords, at least for flats.

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Interesting @TheBBG, I’ll pass this point on to our media team.

Here is a typical example of a mid-range in Houston. Had some rellies who lived there for a few years.
www.lakesatcypresswood.com

@TheBBG Having lived in the US I also noticed they would have ‘supers’ who were usually living onsite. That made it really easy to get things repaired for those lucky enough to live in that kind of complex.

Unfortunately when I lived in the US I had a landlady who managed the property herself and I had many of the problems people above have noted. My neighbours were luckier - their ‘super’ was also a student who lived in their house (large 2 storey house with 9 bedrooms) and she managed a number of other buildings around the area in exchange for free rent and pay. They had a lovely house and things were always fixed!

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This seems like an interesting idea: https://guardmylease.com/

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I reckon you’ll get plenty of stories from local Tenants Advice & Advocacy Services.

I live in a regional area and have had problems with water tanks, gutters, pumps, access roads, septic tanks as well as the usual lack of repairs and maintenance.

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I’ve been on the opposite side once - my place was being rented out while I lived overseas. I noticed the rental agent was being far too anal about stuff and wouldn’t let up when I wrote to them to do. Fired them and moved the property to a new agent who was much more realistic.

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I would be more than happy to talk to you but would not like to be identified, sadly, I would not like to be identified as I have a vested interest in not becoming homeless. Herein lies the problem renters are definitely in a inequitable position of bargaining vith the Landlord. I have on several and various occasions tried to right a wrong with a Landlord but ultimately always lost. This includes an action that I took as far as to the Court of Appeal in Victoria? I commend your efforts to investigate this area of fundamental need. Good luck. Please contact me I’m sure I can contribute to your research.

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Private rentals through real estate mafia are almost more hassle than its worth, apart from the fact one NEEDS shelter.

1: Rented from Get It Sold Realty in North Beach Perth. Prior to move in 2 front windows were to be repaired.

Kept asking, pleading etc till a Christmas card arrived in mail from owner with return address.

Sent a letter to owner(teacher in country placement) and recieved reply stating that permission had been granted to Get It Sold Realty to replace windows some 12 months prior to my tenancy.

Windows were finally replaced and the bastard at Get it Sold refused to renew my lease and I was out.

2: Rented from another Perth real estate firm who has contracts with WA Govt to rent govt Agencies owned properties.

Attempted for 8 months to get false rental bill sorted.

Was continually told that as it was computer generated it was correct.

Finally went to their office and told them the issue I was there for and was told again the computer was not wrong.

Much discussion later with front desk staff, rental agent and finally a supervisor and
they agreed to go through the record and I explained again that I was not leaving the office untill it was sorted.

Finally after lunch at approx 2pm the supervisor followed by rental agent approached me and stated, in a manner that indicated i was a problem to them, stated that there was indeed a computor error and what I had stated for 8 months was correct.

An apology of sorts was offered which i declined to accept and I further stated that the office processes and staff responses was unsatisfactory to say the least.

Left the office thinking that it was sorted. How wrong can one be. Some months later successfully applied to rent a property in Fremantle and the agent there asked if I was aware that there was a black star against my name on the Australian Agency that records tenants that have not paid rent etc.

Phoned this Australian Agency and asked about this record and yes it was there and they could not remove it. I had to contact the Real Estate which had placed it there.

Guess who put it there?? The pricks who refused for 8 months to attend to an accounting error has malisciouly placed it there. One more phpne call later and another insincere apology rejected along with some gramatically correct abjectives of a withering nature.

These are but 2 offerings from an ordinary anglo Australians experience with some of the worlds most unethical characters masquerading as Real Estate Agents. Better the be called for what they are. The Real Estate Mafia.

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Hi - I am a landlord - and I have had MY fair share of really bad experiences…recently I had a couple ‘rent’ my property - what I didn’t know was that from the day they moved in they were continuously screaming, yelling, hitting each other, breaking my brooms, mops and rakes - by hitting each other with them!!! throwing food at the walls and not cleaning properly [5 months later STILL battling ants from food dripping into cracks and windows!!] along with visitors and themselves driving in and out of property [loudly screaming at each other] at all hours of the night - which is how this came to my attention - the neighbours were constantly awakened by these comings and goings, alerted me, as they[the neighbours] suspected drug dealers…although, unproven, they are known to use drugs, very aggressive toward each other and Very Entitled as to Never disposing of rubbish - I took a whole trailer load of rubbish - theirs - to the tip - upon requesting they vacate the premises, one of them ran at me with a broom and tried to hit me in the head

I am a 56 year old female - they are 31yo and 32yo males - when the broom broke - they Both then rushed at me as if to hit me - I stared the weak people down - rang the police whom advised they move out immediately, returning at a mutually agreeable time - they sent an sms saying they would like to access the property - AFTER they had 1] cut the chain on the gate 2] wrenched the door off the house 3] spread the rubbish throughout the house and immediate outside area 4] defecated in the cistern of the toilet 5] paid no rent for 6 weeks…that is one of the 6 tenants I have had to remove over a 20 month period…I could give you more - the couple whom were desperate to Caretake a property, worked at Buslink Vivo as bus drivers earing $43 per hour - 4 days after moving in, according to them - someone attempted to ‘break in’ to the house - when did they tell me this? 5 days AFTER the event - and ONLY when I leaned on the door[which had just cost $350 to repair] which then fell off the runner - when I enquired - they told me the story of the attempted ‘break in’ - what really happened? they forgot their keys - instead of asking me to come and open the door - they chose to wrench the door off and enter in that manner - Caretakers…Don’t Care Takers - .and you wonder why landlords are so strict…the way things are going there will be NO housing for ANYONE as Investors REFUSE to rent to people with NO respect…I don’t remember wrecking my Landlord’s house at ANYTIME as a tenant - I respected the fact that I had a roof over my head…so many do-gooders sticking up for these parasites…making it untenable for landlords and as such I am selling my investment properties…4 more houses gone…

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Have rented for 50 years, it was a lifestyle choice, but now thrown in the towel and bought our own house. Having been evicted from our latest “home” of over 4 years into a rapidly shrinking rental market there was simply nothing available that suited us. We live in a coastal tourist town and the lure of potential profits from holiday rentals has clouded many a landlord’s judgement.
The issues I am happy to discuss are:

  • The reduction of suitable rental accommodation for those, like us, who make a lifestyle choice to rent.
  • The standards of property management have monstrously changed in favour of landlords. We have been treated as second-class citizens by property managers for over ten years now, the only rights recognised were those mandated by the government rental authority (in Queensland, the RTA).
    So having no fear of retribution I would be happy to talk to your journalist (though not too sure about having my photo taken).
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Our property manager has been a nightmare from start to finish… a list of her bad deeds

  • The minute she received our deposit and bond she stopped replying to emails and calls, refused to give us any details about the property like whether the power or gas was currently on or off and refused to give us access to the property for a second inspection and to take measurements.
  • Told us she had registered our bond, but 1 month later when I tried to register an additional sub-letter’s bond found that she not only hadn’t registered it - but the last people who lived in our place’s bond had not been given back to them. Took an additional 2 months of being on her back to ensure it was registered. (Failure to register a bond within 10 days is an offence)
  • One toilet and the aircon broke, she refused to do anythign about it for almost a month, got fed up and looked up how to fix it myself, the morning after she arranged for someone to look and it and because it was already fixed she tried to bill me for it. Regarding the toilet - she sent someone out who said they couldn’t do it, so she just left it as if that was the problem solved - took another 2 months of emails to get her to get it fixed.
  • The owners decided they wanted to build a patio on the property so they sent a contractor out who immediately said the front stairs to the property were not safe for use (we had guessed this already - they were in bvery bad shape). It is now FOUR months later and nothing has been done - haven’t not been able to access the front of our property for four months - a huge hazard if there was a fire (which we could put out because they have not replaced the fire extinguisher in about 50 years). The secondary access is up the side of the property and goes up stairs that are uneven and unlit - very frustrating and dangerous. A delivery man came up the front stairs and put his foot through the stairs entirely - since then they have reduced our rent by $50 but still have not had them fixed.

We have now threatened to go to QCAT - which is the only thing she ever listens to - every single time she gives terrible repeated excuses for months until she is threatened - who knew safe front stairs was so unreasonable. Also - we have been good tenants, we have kept the property in better condition than when we moved in!

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Thanks for the responses so far, I’m sending them to our media team for review. Keep them coming!

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Copied from my reply on RentInOz page

"For over two years everytime it rained enough (this varied on wind direction) our main bedroom carpet became sodden up to 3/4 of the length of the bedroom. Mould in the built in cupboard, Mould under the carpet (both black mould). Owner tried to find the problem but never did and eventually sold the house (we had to move out). While still living there we ended up not using the main bedroom and moved to another room…only in the last year did we get a reduction in rent of about $10 per week so rent was $360 per week. It ended up being the phone line from the Street, water came from the phone pit down the conduit into the wall cavity. You could hear the water cascading in the wall.

The water ruined some furnishing of ours, some shoes and the mould damaged some clothing (never reimbursed for any damage).

But it is hard to put this on a public forum with names and such as you “The Renter” are then tagged as a troublemaker and find it hard to get a property in future."

When we moved in after 2011 floods we were never told about the water issue (it was known about) and we only found out after the bedroom became flooded after a rain storm. We moved in because the previous house we rented was so flood damaged we had to move out.

Current rental is inspected every 3 months and we can only get a maximum 12 month lease even if we wanted to have a lease for a longer period. Most rental owners do not want pets, and do not allow pictures or photos to be mounted. In my many years of experience most owners/agents are very slow to repair faults but are very fast to lodge “Remedy to Breach” on renters even when it has been the agent’s mistake.

Finally a big bugbear I have about paying rent. Most agents do not allow payment of rent by cash. They do not like and often will not accept payment by Direct Deposits, they do however generally accept Money Orders ($8.95 each) or Bank Cheques (cost varies but Commbank is $15). Many now prefer you, the Renter, to pay through a Rent Payment Agent, whom they push you to accept as the way to pay your rent, even going so far to provide you with pre-filled applications, they may and often do even include the Rent Payment Agent as the preferred method of payment in the Lease document.

The problem with the Rent Payment Agent is that even if they have taken the money out of your account on the correct dates, you are not considered by the RE Agent to have paid the rent until they receive it from the agent. If the agent fails to pass the rent on in time or at all and even if you show the rent has been taken out you are still taken as to have failed to pay the rent and must pay the outstanding amount. If the period of this has been of sufficient time (eg 2 weeks) you may be served with a “Notice to Quit” or “Remedy to Breach” and are required to vacate the property if you do not pay the outstanding amount and your name will be blacklisted even if you enter a payment arrangement.

You then have to seek a refund from the Rent Payment Agent and of course if they go broke you will never see that money again. The Agents also charge a fee for this “service”. The reason RE Agents like them so much is that the Payment Agent furnishes them with reports about who has paid and so on.

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