The majority of tenants have little or no knowledge of their rights and have little recourse when they are faced with a landlord’s refusal to rent their property, according to a survey commissioned by Tenants Union of Australia.
In the survey of 2,000 tenants in four Australian cities, half of those surveyed reported that they were experiencing financial hardship because they were not being paid the rent.
While some tenants are forced to rely on family and friends to pay the rent, many of the responses to the survey also noted that they are under pressure from the landlord.
“I am a single mother, and I am often faced with the choice between not paying my rent or being homeless,” one tenant in Sydney, NSW, said.
“We have a lot of issues with the landlord and he is not being fair with us.”
A spokesperson for Tenants Federation of Australia said that many tenants were forced to make choices that were not based on the landlord’s property.
“The tenant is the one who is not in the best position to take those decisions, whether it be whether they pay the property, whether they do the repairs or even whether they make a contribution to the building,” he said.
Tenants’ rights are violated often times by landlords who refuse to provide essential services to tenants, such as heating and lighting, heating and cooling, electrical work and the provision of toilets.
“Most landlords would like to be able to rent out the property as long as they are able to do that, but the fact of the matter is that most landlords have no idea how to negotiate rent for tenants,” Mr Roberts said.
Some of the common reasons tenants say they are being evicted are:The property is not suitable for renting and there is no suitable space in the property to rent The landlord refuses to make repairs and is not willing to repair the property The landlord has no plans to rent the property for longer than a yearThe landlord is not paying their rent and the tenant is unable to pay rent The tenant is in the process of moving to a different property and is unable or unwilling to find a suitable tenant for the property.
Tenant rights are protected under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), and tenants should not have to pay for repairs, rent or maintenance on their properties unless they are entitled to do so.
“A tenant who is facing eviction is entitled to make a claim for the costs of repairing the property and the maintenance they have to do to it,” Mr Robertson said.
“If the tenant has no right to claim, then they should be able make their own claim for repairs or rent.”
If you have a rental property and you are facing eviction, the first thing to do is to make sure you have the rights to make your own claim, and that is what the tenants’ rights advocates are doing.
“Tenants rights are being eroded by landlords’ practicesThe survey results came as Tenants Australia and the National Tenants’ Union launched the Tenants Legal Support Program.
Tenents Legal Support is a national network of community groups working to support and advocate for tenants rights.”
Tenants Legal support is a vital component of our work and provides people with the tools to understand their rights, the right to contact the relevant authorities and the legal system to help ensure that they have the support they need to protect their rights,” Ms Riney said.
For more information, visit www.tenants.org.au.