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Case Study: Dangerous living conditions

I'm a long term renter.  I was 10 years in my previous property, and the house gradually deteriorated.

The owner would not replace carpets that had deteriorated so far that the carpet nails stuck out and cut my baby's legs when he crawled.  They decided to bang the nails down with a hammer and stuck a metal plate at the other end of the hall.

Once, the shower leaked through the wall and caused fungus to grow in the carpet in the next room.  The handyman told me that vinegar would fix it.  Eventually I got permission to lift the carpet up, which was covered in black mould.  The floorboards had to be removed as they were rotted through.  It took six weeks for them to replace the carpet in that room so we had to have the person living in it sleep in the lounge.

The oven/burner had issues with inconsistent gas and their contractor kept saying it was because the plates were just dirty!  So I put up with it for years.

Every time I asked for maintenance, they put the rent up.  I would do things myself or my dad did them, including making curtains and fixing a broken step.

In the end, the asbestos-filled shed fell down in a storm and they just left the sheeting there in the yard.  I had to pay for it to be removed myself because my child played in the yard and it was too dangerous.  They decided to replace the shed and used the contractor I got to move the asbestos.  They put my things in the shed under tarps in the backyard.  These things were for my business.

When I asked for them to pay for storage after a month of waiting for the promised new shed, I received a notice to vacate.  My things under the tarps were all ruined.

They 'renovated' by finally replacing the carpet, curtains and painting for the first time in at least 13 years, and rented the house again for almost $300 a week more than I was paying.  While I lived there, whenever there were problems they sent around contractors that would try and ‘gas-light’ me and say there was no problem.

I am now in another rental and the plumbing constantly goes hot and cold.  They sent round the agency plumber and it was the same gas-lighting attitude again.  My four year old is having one shower a week because it burns or goes cold.

There needs to be mandated maintenance times for painting, carpet and curtain replacements in accordance with the depreciation periods determined by the ATO.  There also needs to be rights for tenants to choose independent contractors where there is a problem the landlord won't fix.

 

The above is a personal account from a current renter located in Victoria.  You can help us call on the Victorian Government to make renting safe, healthy and secure by signing the petition and emailing your local MP in support of the Make Renting Fair campaign.