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.