“I rented a unit in regional Queensland for 18 months without any problems,” says 61-year-old Susan, “then one day, my tenancy was unexpectedly ended. I asked for a reason on several occasions, and the real estate agent just kept repeating, ‘we don’t have to give you one.'”
As a pensioner with health issues, the implications of moving were enormous for Susan. She could not afford the additional costs of relocating and knew she would be hard-pressed to find a similar home for the same price. “My mental health suffered badly, because of the stress and friendships I was leaving behind,” she says.
Susan had invested both time and money into the property, making it a home she was proud of. She had repainted the interior, put up shelving, replaced a small bathroom mirror with a larger one, made curtains for the bare windows and purchased lampshades for the lights. She tended to the small garden each day, adding plants and watching them thrive.
“I was a good tenant, but got treated very badly in the end,” she says.
Under current Queensland laws, agents and owners can end tenancies without any grounds, making it possible to discriminate or retaliate against tenants.
Unfair evictions are just one contributor to the growing rate of homelessness in women over the age of 55, along with low incomes and superannuation due to time out of the workforce or working low-paid jobs while caring for children or parents.
This time, Susan was lucky and found somewhere to live.
“A community support service helped me to move my belongings into a friend’s granny flat. I am lucky it also has a garden, so I have somewhere to spend my time each day,” explains Susan, “but it doesn’t seem fair that I had to leave when the apartment was rented out again after I left.”
If a property is to remain on the rental market, we believe a tenant who is meeting their obligations should be able to continue residing there. It’s a small change that doesn’t cost lessors or the government money but would have a positive impact on renters like Susan.
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