A new report by CHOICE reveals that things are tough for tenants in the Australian rental market.
The report, Unsettled: Life in Australia’s private rental market, found that thousands of tenants face discrimination, and live in constant fear of eviction.
Insecurity is fuelled by short or no fixed-term leases, and a fear from tenants they will be blacklisted if they complain, ask for essential maintenance or speak up for their rights.
‘It’s hard to imagine a product or service this poor in any other sector. With renting, consumers have to deal with major quality issues like mould or flooding and are systematically denied access to a timely remedy,’ says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.
‘Worryingly, we found that renters with more experience in the market were less likely to complain when something goes wrong, which illustrates the entrenched culture of fear among renters. This is all the more of a concern when you consider the rising number of long-term renters across Australia,’ says Ned Cutcher, National Association of Tenants’ Organisations spokesperson.
Collectively, the consumer rights groups are calling on governments to prioritise rental security and the quality of what’s on offer, not just housing affordability.
‘Tenants are often the last group to be asked about the housing challenges Australia faces,’ says Adrian Pisarski, National Shelter’s Executive Officer.
‘This research has tenants talking about their experiences of the system in a way that’s not often considered in debates about housing. As more Australians enter the rental market, we need a national plan to boost supply, especially for low-income households, whilst also addressing security, rights and amenity.’
Unsettled: Life in Australia’s private rental market is based on a national study and co-authored by CHOICE, the National Association of Tenants’ Organisations and National Shelter.