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.