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.”

When COVID-19 struck, Michelle’s partner lost income. Because Michelle is on a carer’s pension looking after one of her children, they fell behind on a few weeks’ rent.

“I think falling behind on rent was held against me, despite all the repair issues I had to live with. I was treated worse,” Sandra says. “After a while, I was able to negotiate to break our lease because my partner and I separated. I couldn’t afford the place on my own. But even breaking the lease came with financial penalties. And now, I can’t find somewhere else to live.

“It’s tough to find somewhere I can afford on a pension, that’s near my children’s school and suitable for a family. In the past, the kids have had to change schools because we rented and had to move quite far away. I feel discriminated against because I’m a carer’s pension, and the pandemic has made things harder.

“I want renting to be fairer for all. Houses should have minimum standards. Repairs should be made. People shouldn’t be discriminated against, and children shouldn’t need to be uprooted. We don’t deserve to be treated as second-class citizens.”

You’d have to wonder if the next lot of renters who move in will inherit the repair issues.

Why it’s important to end without ground evictions

March 13, 2020

At Make Renting Fair, the biggest issue were trying to change is getting rid of unfair evictions. These are used to target renters who have done nothing wrong and are one of the reasons renters often need to move house. We believe a home should be safe and stable and fixing this law will mean renters can feel more at home.

Terminating tenancies without any grounds creates fear for tenants who become afraid of retaliatory or discriminatory eviction, and allows dodgy landlords to get away with subpar housing.

Here are some real-life examples from Queenslanders.

These are real case studies, but their names have been changed and identities protected, because they were afraid speaking publicly would have a negative impact on their tenancies. 

George’s story:

George has a five-year-old child and found asbestos in the backyard of his rental property on the Sunshine Coast. He asked for the asbestos to be removed, without success. Fearing for his family’s health, he tried to get it rectified but the landlord refused.  The only option left for George was to try to end the tenancy early. George had the stress and worry of making an application to QCAT (which he won) and the added problem of finding another property and moving at his expense. George has now moved but is worried about being perceived as a troublemaker by his new property agent. He wants to support our campaign publicly, but he’s too scared for fear of reprisals. He believes minimum housing standards and improved processes for getting repairs done should be introduced into Queensland tenancy laws.

Pamela’s story:

Pamela spoke to her real estate agent about a couple of issues within the new building she was renting. The basement carpark lighting wasn’t working adequately, and she had a few security concerns about the building in general. She was shocked to receive a Form 12 the next day and says, “I was stunned to discover the landlord’s agent would get rid of me rather than attend to the building’s issues and residents’ safety…I wonder how many people realise how one-sided the law is. I have been a landlord and still didn’t! The laws need to be changed, but supporting the MRF campaign could be held against me. I’m going to think twice before talking to an agent about a building fault again.

Betty’s story:

Betty is in her late 80’s and had repairs done to her rental property in the outer suburbs of Brisbane. Once the repairs were completed, the landlord left some items on the ground, and as a consequence, Betty fell. She took steps against the landlord because of her injuries. In return, she received a notice to leave without grounds, which she fought because she considered it was retaliatory.  With the help of a tenancy advice worker, Betty took her case to QCAT and won. Betty now lives on a periodic tenancy, fearful of another notice to leave without grounds. She’s too scared to publicly support our campaign in case it causes more trouble, and she has to leave her home. If she hadn’t had the support of the advice worker, she doesn’t know where she’d be now.

Sally’s story:

Sally is a single parent in North Queensland who has lived in the same property for five years. Over the last year, she has had consistent water leaks in her bedroom. Sally endures constant drips that occasionally turned into a stream, splashing through her bedroom. Sally requested a repair, but no action was taken. When Sally said she would make a formal complaint, she was told a formal complaint might result in her lease not being renewed later in the year. She strongly supports our campaign but is worried the agent might make good on her threats to end her tenancy if she speaks out.

Community service providers who work in association with real estate agents are also not immune.

  1. A community service provider called Assist,* supported a local tenant who was moving because of domestic violence and social issues. Assist helped the tenant move into a new property, but the house was dirty and infested with cockroaches. With support from Assist, the tenant asked for pest control and cleaning to be done. In response, the real estate agency managing the property threatened not to work with Assist in the future.
  2. A second community service provider in regional Queensland called Help* supports the State government’s proposed tenancy improvements. Because Help is based in a small town, they are concerned about reprisal if they publicly support our campaign.

Ordinary Queenslanders should not live in fear of eviction or be punished for asking for better than subpar housing. We deserve better than our existing tenancy laws.

_________________________

Take action today!

Email your local Member of Parliament to let them know you support an end to without grounds evictions.

Tell us about your own eviction experiences by emailing: [email protected], or send us a video on our Facebook or Twitter page.

Stay up to date with our campaign news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

*Not the real names of the community service providers.

“If it weren’t for my dog, I wonder if I would still be here today.”

February 27, 2020
Cassie’s entire family belongs together.

Pets have always been a huge part of my life and always will be, however, having a dog while renting has caused me plenty of heartaches.

I got my dog, Kenji, right before I found out I was pregnant. I had been battling depression, anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after fleeing a domestic violence situation. I was medicated and attending regular psychology sessions, but nothing helped me quite like Kenji. Words can’t explain how her unconditional love helped me. She let me feel secure and safe in my home.  She let me feel peace again.

I have never received any complaints about my dog, I have good pet references from my previous landlord, and Kenji is registered with the local council and her healthcare needs are met. Despite being a responsible pet owner, and always receiving my full bond back when moving, renting with a dog has been difficult.

Last year, I was a few days off becoming homeless with my one-year-old baby and Kenji. I simply couldn’t find anywhere to live that would permit pets.

I had been approved for National Renting Assistance Scheme (NRAS) housing and was also on the social housing register. But all the listings refused pets.

I was greatly upset, and couldn’t understand why the government would discriminate against my need to keep my dog. My family began to pressure me to give up Kenji, but I couldn’t.

In the end, I got lucky. My mother stepped in and offered to put her name on a lease with me and subsidise my rent by $50 a week. Not everyone has this luxury, and to be honest, I still can’t afford the rent I’m paying but it was all I could find that would allow me to keep my dog.

Each week I juggle bills, requesting extensions for payments, and some weeks I have requested assistance from various emergency relief organisations to buy food and petrol. But my rent is always my priority and is always paid on time.

My baby is now two-years-old and starting childcare so I can finish studying and apply for work. I need to improve my financial situation before I drown in bills. The struggle is real. I feel desperate for those who do not have a family member to help, as I did.

I want the government to support renters to own a pet. Homeowners are allowed pets, but not me. If it weren’t for my dog, I wonder if I would still be here today. Kenji is my world, and my daughter adores her too.

I am proud to say that these days, my PTSD and anxiety are in remission, and I believe Kenji had a role in that. Pets are life-saving, and I am thankful you are all highlighting this issue. I hope we can make real progress. Cassie


Take action!

Sign our petition and tell The Hon Mick de Brenni that pets and people belong together.

“We usually don’t have problems renting with our pet birds, but we really want to own a dog…”

January 29, 2020

We have been wanting to adopt a dog into our family for about three years now, but haven’t because we know how hard it is to find pet-friendly rentals. Instead, we keep budgies  as pets.   

Most of the time, birds are still accepted even when a property advertisement says “no pets”. Landlords tend to refuse cats and dogs instead.

During a recent house inspection, I mentioned our birds to the property manager who replied with a flat-out, “no pets.” I pushed and said, “They’re just budgies. Could we at least ask the owner?” She ended the inspection. I didn’t submit the application.

We have also had awful experiences with property managers, exit inspections and bogus bond claims we couldn’t afford to fight in QCAT; getting a dog adds an extra layer of complexity that we just don’t have the drive to fight through.

We’re now living tight and working overtime, trying to get a house deposit together so we can buy a home and finally get our fur-baby! Anonymous

Tell your MP that pets and people belong together!

Homeownership is not an option for all of us, and it isn’t fair Queenslanders have to sacrifice the benefits of pet ownership in order to rent a home.

The Palaszczuk government proposed changes that would make pet ownership easier for renters. Now that the consultation period has finished, you can continue to show your support for those changes by contacting your local MP.

Not sure what to say? Use our draft.  Unsure who your local MP is? Find out here. To ensure you don’t miss a thing, sign up to our newsletter today.

“My landlord takes no action when I ask him to fix my home. I can’t make a formal complaint because I worry I’ll be kicked out.”

October 30, 2019

“My house has holes in the wall and floor, and the roof leaks every time it rains. The bathwater is brown and there is mould in the roof. My landlord is also the property owner, and he takes no action when I ask him to fix the house. I can’t make a formal complaint because I worry I’ll be kicked out.

“I know plenty of people living on the street or sleeping in their cars because it’s just so hard to get a rental in this area. If you’re on the dole, it’s so hard to afford rent and food or petrol for your car. And once you’re on the street it’s nearly impossible to get back into a house.

“I’ve lived in this house for seven years. I don’t believe tenants have rights.” Nathan

Take action!

To support our initiative to change Queensland laws and make renting fair, sign up for our campaign updates and share this post with your friends.

If you have experienced unfair rental practices, share your story with us. Email [email protected] or send us a video on our Facebook or Twitter page.

“I am disabled and currently homeless because I cant find somewhere to live with my dog….”

October 23, 2019
Make renting fair by keeping pets and owners together
To keep this story anonymous, a file photo has been used.

“I am disabled and currently homeless with my dog. I rescued my dog from being put to sleep. My dog is my greatest support for my mental health, and I have had to consider getting rid of her just to get a roof over my head.

“I cannot find a rental anywhere where I can keep my dog. I feel discriminated against for owning a dog to help with my mental health. I have looked in many different suburbs, but the problem is complicated because I need to be in a particular region to receive medical support. But still, nothing.

“Please… the stress on pet owners is getting beyond a joke, and more and more animals are ending up being abandoned or surrendered. Rescue groups are overrun with animals because landlords won’t allow pets. This is not fair on anyone: animals or people.” Anonymous

Take action!

To support our initiative to change Queensland laws and make renting fair, sign up for our campaign updates and share this post with your friends.

You can also tell us your own story by emailing [email protected] or send us a video on our Facebook or Twitter page.

Your rental reform ideas: “Tenants deserve a cooling off period…”

September 27, 2019

We asked and you answered! Here’s one of the many rental reform ideas that have been contributed by Queenslanders…

A renting reform I’d like to see in Queensland is the introduction of cooling-off periods for tenants when they sign a new lease.

When moving into a new house, my partner and I discovered the lights didn’t work in half of the house, the hot water system would short out all the time, and the stove was constantly turned on. It took them two weeks to fix the stove, and we couldn’t live in the house during that period because it was a fire trap.

So what we would love to see, aside from pets being allowed, is cooling off periods. A cooling-off period would have prevented what happened to us. It would stop dodgy landlords and stop dodgy rental agencies. Keith

Take action!

Do you agree with Keith? We want to hear about the changes you most want to see. Email [email protected] or send us a video on our Facebook or Twitter page.

To support our initiative to change Queensland laws and make renting fair, sign up for our campaign updates and share this post with your friends.

“I can’t find somewhere to live with my kitten…”

September 20, 2019
The real kitten did not want to be identified so we’ve used a file photo!

“My experience with renting in my current unit while owning a pet has been great. I’ve never had any issues, but soon my lease will be up and I am struggling to find a place that will take my kitten in as well. I believe that all units/houses/apartments should consider permitting pets.

I see so many posts about people having to re-home their pets due to lessors not accepting them, which I don’t think is fair for the pet or the owner! Let’s face it, we love our fur-babies and they love us! We should always have the opportunity to be with them no matter where we live”. This story was sent to us by a tenant who asked to remain anonymous to avoid any negative impact on their renting options.

Take action!

To support our initiative to change Queensland laws and make renting fair, sign up for our campaign updates and share this post with your friends.

You can also tell us your own story by emailing [email protected] or send us a video on our Facebook or Twitter page.

“My dog is my best mate….” Lauren and Alex’s story

September 3, 2019

Renting with Pets

“I got my dog, Rylie, about two-and-a-half years ago,” explains Alex, a Queensland tenant and pet owner. “I was very lucky to live in a house where pet ownership was permitted. After I moved out of that house, I encountered difficulties. Almost every rental  advertisement said, ‘no pets’. It took two months to find a new pet-friendly house, and it was right down to the wire. I was accepted into a new home just days before my lease ended.”

After months of searching, Alex was fortunate to move into a share-house with his friend, Lauren, and her poodle, Lottie. The two dogs get along well, and their lessor is willing to have tenants with pets.

Unfortunately, many pet owners don’t find pet-friendly rentals. Despite having one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, only around 10% of rental properties in Queensland allow pets. This disparity contributes to the rate of animals being surrendered. The Animal Welfare League claims 25% of pets were surrendered last financial year due to an inability by renters to find pet-friendly homes.

“I had another dog a few years ago, his name was Chief,” says Lauren. “I had him for six years, but because he was so big, I struggled to find a house for him. Eventually, I made the difficult decision to re-home him to a family who owned a large property. I know he is happier there and the family continue to send me photos and messages.”

Lauren’s previous experience with Chief made her very selective when it came to choosing Lottie, years later. As a student, she knew homeownership wasn’t an achievable goal in the near future. She deliberately selected a poodle because of their small size and inability to shed fur. Lauren hopes these traits will improve her likelihood of securing future rental homes with Lottie.

“My dog is my best mate. It doesn’t matter the time of day, she’s always there for me, and I never feel alone,” says Lauren. “It just doesn’t seem fair that people should be discriminated against in their rental housing for owning a pet.”

“My dog promotes a healthy lifestyle for me,” continues Lauren. “Lottie encourages me to take daily walks, and pet ownership also gives me a higher sense of responsibility that carries into other areas of my life.”

Numerous studies have shown the positive effects of pet ownership on people’s health, happiness and resilience. For the elderly, chronically ill, children or those with mental health difficulties, a pet can indeed be a lifeline, providing a reason to get out of bed each day.

When we know just how important pets are to Australians, it seems unfair that tenants are expected to surrender their pets or forego the opportunity of pet ownership.

While Lauren, Alex and their dogs enjoy their current home, knowing how few rental properties accept pets, does play on their minds.

“I’m heading overseas soon, and my Mum will mind Riley while I am away,” says Alex. “But when I get back, I’m in for some trouble trying to find a new home.”

“I try to live day-to-day and not worry,” says Lauren. “Because I already had problems renting with a large dog, I’ve chosen a breed that can fit with my lifestyle and should make finding a rental home possible. But you just never know.”

Both Alex and Lauren would like to see improved pet-ownership rights for tenants. “It would be nice to be given a chance from lessors and agents, instead of just being condemned from the start,” says Lauren.

“We give up thousands of dollars in bond money to live in a rental home, so it seems unreasonable that pet owners are denied an opportunity flat out,” agrees Alex. “It also encourages tenants to sneak pets onto a property and breaks down communication between tenants and lessors.”

Take action!

To support our initiative to change Queensland laws and make renting fair for pet owners, sign up for our campaign updates and share this post with your friends.

If you have experienced unfair rental practices related to pet ownership, share your story with us. Email [email protected] or send us a video on our Facebook or Twitter page.

“I lost my home for no reason…” Susan’s story

July 9, 2019

“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.

Take action!

To support our initiative to change Queensland laws and make renting fair, sign our petition today! Also, register for our campaign updates and share this post with your friends.

If you have experienced unfair rental practices, share your story with us. Email [email protected] or send us a video on our Facebook or Twitter page.