Our Rally for Renters’ Rights

October 8, 2021

On Thursday 7 August, the Make Renting Fair in Queensland campaign hosted a COVID safe in person rally and an online virtual rally, encouraging all Queenslanders to get on board and raise their voices for renters’ rights.

We had guest speakers

– Penny Carr, CEO Tenants Queensland and Make Renting Fair Qld Alliance member
– Elisha, Disability advocate and Queensland renter
– Jae, Queensland renter
– Michelle Moss, Director Queenslanders with Disability Network and Make Renting Fair in Queensland alliance
– Paty, Tenant advice worker Community Plus+ West End Community House
…. PLUS! Hear more stories from Queensland renters.

You can watch our live video from our rally here on our Facebook page. 

If you haven’t already – take these three easy steps to Raise Your Voice for Renters’ Rights.

Michelle has been forced to relocate to Brisbane to stay with family and has been left with no other option than to fly in and out of Rockhampton for work. 

September 23, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle* rented a property in central Queensland for 5 years. The property had been built by her landlord and had significant structural issues. There was cracking throughout the unit, the walls had separated from the roof in sections and water seeped in when it rained.  The bathrooms did not have any ventilation or exhaust fans and there ongoing problems with mould. The windows in the property were also badly broken, offering little protection from cold, wind and rain, as well as posing a security issue.

Michelle made repeated requests to her property manager to improve the ventilation in the bathroom to stop the mould and repair the broken windows, however the property manager failed to take any action.

During the time Michelle was in the property the lock to the main door also broke.  Despite Michelle issuing multiple breach notices, it took more than 3 weeks for her property manager to get the repair done.

“As a single female in a high crime area I didn’t feel safe. I had no other option than to use an 8kg kettle bell to secure the door.”

Despite the property’s appalling condition, the landlord increased Michelle’s rent at every lease renewal. When Michelle again confronted the property manager about the repairs, she accused Michelle of being in rent arrears.

“The house was a threat to my health and safety. But when I tried to talk to my property manager about it, she accused me of being in behind in my rent. I was completely shocked. I had receipts to show that I had always paid my rent on time.”

When Michelle questioned the property manager about the rent increase, she told Michelle that they had increased her rent 5 months ago. The property manager was unable to provide Michelle with any proof that they had notified her of the rent increase and then proceeded to ask her to sign a backdated lease to reflect the rent increase. When Michelle refused, the property manager issued her with a “without grounds” eviction. Michelle is in no doubt that this a retaliatory eviction for standing up for her rights.

“The property has since been leased with a rent hike of $100 on top of what I had been paying, and without any of the issues being resolved. It is sickening that landlord greed and the unscrupulous conduct of agents is allowed to run rampant, whilst hardworking and decent tenants are cast out on the streets or placed in precarious positions for speaking up.”

When Michelle received the eviction notice back in late April, she did everything she could to find another rental property. However, with vacancy rates at record lows across many Queensland regional areas, she is still struggling to find a new home. She has been forced to relocate to Brisbane to stay with family and has been left with no other option than to fly in and out of Rockhampton for work.

“I’m just lucky that my employer allowed me flexible working arrangements, otherwise I would have lost my job as well. I’m a senior project manager and it’s pretty tough trying to stay on top of things from Brisbane.”

Michelle has applied for more than 70 rental properties since April but keeps getting knocked back. She is currently in Rockhampton for work and staying in a budget hotel costing $86 per night.

(*Name changed for anonymity)

Stock image used.

“Being asked to leave threw our family into chaos.  We knew the rental market was bad, but we had no idea just how bad it was.”

September 13, 2021

Pamela has been living in her rental home for almost 4 years.  The property is also home to her extended family, including her daughter who is an essential worker.  Pamela is also a carer for another family member who has a disability.

For almost 4 years she looked after the house like it was her own, not only maintaining the property but also making improvements at her own cost (with the landlord’s approval), such as re-painting the front door and paying for external house washing.  Pamela has always paid her rent on time and was never given any breaches by the agent.  However, things when changed the house was sold and the new landlord appointed a different real estate agent to manage Pamela’s property.

“They didn’t like that we had 4 vehicles on the property and that our garage was a workshop for my son’s hobbies.  We were given 60 days to leave without cause.  They said it was to do repairs, but the property was in good shape and didn’t need repairs,” Pamela said.

“Being asked to leave threw our family into chaos.  We knew the rental market was bad, but we had no idea just how bad it was. We would have at least 5 applications running at a time with no luck.  When our time ran out, I asked the real estate agent for an extension, and they gave us another month.  However, we still didn’t have any luck getting a house.”

Pamela said she sent the agent a spreadsheet of all the rental property applications she had made and was able to negotiate another 3-month lease.

“They offered us an extension but increased the rent by $100 per week.  We had little option but to accept to keep a roof over our heads,” Pamela stated.  “We are currently 2 weeks into this 3-month extension, and I am worn out from doing applications, house viewing and constant rejections.  None of this is fair.  It seems like the new owner just doesn’t like us and because of that our lives have been turned upside down.”

Pamela described her fear of being left without a place to call home.  “I’m sick with worry that we won’t be able to find another place and we’ll be turned out onto the streets.  I don’t have anyone I can couch surf with, so I’m ringing the homeless hot line to find out my options.  I have a good rental history and excellent references.  I should not be in this situation. Notice to leave without cause needs to be stopped.”

Kate’s youngest child’s allergies started playing up and the family subsequently discovered mould in the carpet.

September 8, 2021

Kate* and her family were happy living in their rental home. Her kids were of school age and their home was within walking distance to the school.

Having moved into an older house, the lounge room carpet was already pretty worn but still in okay condition. After a while, Kate’s youngest child’s allergies started to flare up and the family subsequently discovered a patch of black mould in the carpet.

Kate contacted the real estate to let them know of the discovery and asked that the carpet be replaced, but was told by the agent that the owner would not do this and suggested that, since it was her child having these issues, they should move house.

Kate and her family loved living there and did not want to move. She even offered that her and her family would go on a week long holiday to facilitate the carpet replacement.

The real estate told them that the owner wanted the family out of the house and that the owner was not going to be renting the house after they left anyway.

Feeling like they had no other choice, Kate and her family ended up moving out. They found another home, however had to pay significant higher rent than they wanted to, because of low vacancy rates in the area. The savings they had, that was going toward a house deposit, ended up being used for moving and cleaning costs.

A few weeks after they had moved out, Kate was asked to return to the rental to attend to a mark on a bedroom wall. When she arrived, she found that there was a new family living in the house and all the carpets in the house, including lounge room, had been replaced.

Kate was devastated that her family had to pack up and move from this rental, and believes that the real estate hadn’t acted in their best interests by not telling the owner how much they were willing to work with the owner to get the carpets replaced, and how much the family loved the home.

 

(*Name changed for anonymity)

Stock image used.

“We had lived in our home for nearly three years, made good friends in the community. Now we have had to leave, for no good reason.”

September 2, 2021

Janine and her family lived in their rental home for nearly 3 years. Janine said they had always paid the rent on time, taken good care of the property and the real estate agent never raised any concerns with them until the last inspection.

“Then they complained about the state of the house as we had baby gates and other children’s items out,” Janine said.

Before they knew it, the family had received a notice to leave without grounds. The real estate agent immediately re-advertised the rental home in Brisbane’s northern suburbs with a substantial rent increase.

Janine described the process of trying to find another home for her family as “an absolute nightmare”. They applied for 12 rental properties without success. Only by chance, Janine’s family were finally able to secure another property when she made a well-timed phone call to an agent who had just received notice from another tenant wanting to break lease. While the family were able to keep a roof over their heads, they were forced into debt to pay for moving costs.

The real estate agent never offered them the option to pay the increased rent to stay.

“We had lived in our home for nearly three years, made good friends in the community, and our neighbours are like family. Now we have had to leave, for no good reason. We would have happily paid the extra rent if it meant avoiding the hassle of moving, especially with a young family.”

Being faced with potential homelessness has had an enormous impact on her family and Janine still cannot understand why they were given a notice to leave.

“It just doesn’t seem fair that a property manager can push us out of our home when we’ve done nothing wrong.  I can’t think about what might have happened to us if we hadn’t been lucky enough to find another house.  It’s just too scary,” Janine said.

Nik doesn’t know what he would do without his four legged friends.

September 1, 2021

Queensland renter Nik*, is a tow truck driver and has been living in his Logan rental property for the last five years. Nik’s landlord gave him approval for him to keep his dogs back in 2017, and it was documented on the lease.

Nik has two Maltese dogs, Monkey and Willow (pictured) and they have been his companions for a number of years and during some really tough times, like when he was recovering from his eye surgery last year.

 

“My dogs have been with me for four years, helping me through my anxiety, my depression through COVID and after my eye surgery,” he said.

However, in January this year the real estate agent managing Nik’s property changed. When the new agent offered him a lease renewal, he noticed that the pet section on his lease agreement wasn’t ticked. Nik questioned the agent about it, and they told him that the landlord doesn’t give permission for him to keep a dog.

The agent then issued him with a breach notice.

Nik tried offering more rent but the agent still said no. Nik has requested dispute resolution from the RTA to try to resolve the issue.

Nik doesn’t know what he would do if he had to get rid of his dogs. They have been his best friends.

(*Name changed for anonymity)

Why we need a good reason before tenancies can be ended

August 27, 2021

My husband and I have been in our current rental property on for more than three years and always paid our rent on time.  My husband was diagnosed with a serious illness a couple of months ago.  With so much happening in our lives, we didn’t realise that the end our current lease was coming up.  We had just come home from the hospital when I opened my emails and saw a Notice to Leave Without Grounds sitting there.  My heart sank in my chest.  I couldn’t believe this was happening to us on top of everything else that we’ve been going through.

I called the agent straight away and asked if maybe there had been a mistake.  We had always paid our rent on time and looked after the property, so I couldn’t understand how this could be happening. He told us it was not a mistake, that the landlord didn’t want to renew our lease.  I immediately started looking for other rental properties and putting in applications, but we kept getting knocked back.

I was starting to panic, so I got back in touch with the property manager, tried to explain my husband’s situation to him and asked if we could be given more time.  The agent said he would speak to the landlord for us and then came back, saying we could have another three months strictly – no more no less – but only if we agreed to pay an extra $175 per week! (more…)

Louise is a working mother of 2 teenagers, is a survivor of domestic violence and was left homeless.

August 20, 2021

Louise Brimson is a working mother of two teenagers.

Louise lives in Brisbane’s bayside, is a survivor of domestic and family violence, and has raised her two boys single-handedly for over 10 years.

She has rented homes for all of her adult life.

The rental home that Louise has most recently lived in had multiple maintenance issues, and after spending the first few months asking for these issues to be remedied, it became obvious to Louise that the agent and landlord were not going to fix them.

Louise was at one point without power for 3 days the real estate agent eventually organised for a faulty bathroom exhaust fan to simply be disconnected, rather than fixed, leaving the bathroom prone to condensation and mould.

A breach notice was made by Louise on the landlord due to a significant water leak on the property. The landlord was still expecting Louise to pay the water bills in full, for water that was simply going down the drain.

Recently, the real estate agent gave Louise a Notice to Leave Without Grounds. No reason was given as to why the family had to move out.

Being evicted has physically split the family apart.

Not being able to find a rental property within the 2 months, Louise’s family would have become homeless were it not for the kindness of a family member who has been able to take in 2 of the 3 family members. One son has had to move in with a friend.

Having just spent significant time and money moving out of the rental property, Louise is just about to recommence the process of looking for a home where she can live safely with her whole family.

Elisha is a person with disability, and her landlord wouldn’t install hand rails in her bathroom to keep her safe from falling.

August 20, 2021

Elisha Matthews is a professional working in the disability and arts sectors, and is a wheelchair user.

Elisha lives with her children and pets on Brisbane’s northside.

She has rented homes for all of her adult life.

At the last couple of rental homes that Elisha has lived in, she has put in requests to make temporary modifications to the homes in order to make the physical space, safe.

At one home, Elisha offered to pay for a simple handrail to be located in the bathroom, and offered to restore the bathroom back to its original condition upon ending of the lease. Agreement with the landlord could not be reached, and Elisha subsequently had to have a support person and shower chair, simply in order to be able to have a shower.

At another home, Elisha requested to install a small ramp at the front door, again at her own cost and with the undertaking to restore back to original condition at lease end. The landlord would not agree to the request, and Elisha had to use the garage to enter and exit the property. This meant that only one of the two car spaces in the garage could be used for a vehicle.

On another occasion, after having specifically rented a property due to it having ducted air-conditioning installed (AC is required to maintain Elisha’s body temperature), the AC stopped working. It took literally weeks for the real estate agent to get someone to fix it, as they deemed AC not a necessity. But for Elisha, it is.

Elisha has spent years and years of having to ‘make do’ after very reasonable requests to make life easier through modifications, have been knocked back. Fortunately, Elisha has recently moved into a property owned by her sister, who is more than happy to accommodate the modification work to enhance Elisha’s lifestyle.

Michelle’s story

September 11, 2020

Michelle lives in South-East Queensland with her two teenage daughters, and until more recently, her ex-partner. The house they rented had termite damage, rats in the wall and rotting timber. Every request Michelle made for repairs, was ignored.

“I almost fell through floorboards once, and there are support beams that are rotten,” says Michelle. “I think it is dangerous that these repairs have not made. I believe there should be legislation for minimum standards.” (more…)