Data released today by National Australia Bank that indicates renters experience a lower rate of wellbeing than owner-occupiers is not surprising given the lack of protections renters face, says campaign spokesperson and Tenants Victoria CEO, Mark O’Brien.
The survey found that respondents who rent their homes scored lower in terms of life satisfaction, life worth, happiness and anxiety than their home-owning counterparts, with those who rent units receiving the lowest overall score.
“It’s not hard to be unhappy when you have few rights in your own home,” says O’Brien. “The balance of power has long been skewed in favour of landlords, leaving tenants with very little recourse when things go pear-shaped.”
He says that tenants are often afraid to exercise the rights they do have for fear of retribution, and that legal loopholes exist in current tenancy law that exacerbate this.
“More people are renting in Australia than ever before, and they are renting for much longer into their lives – often into retirement. Our tenancy laws need to reflect the modern rental market.”
The Victorian Government has committed to reviewing the state’s Residential Tenancies Act, and announced a series of reforms in October last year including a ban on ‘no reason’ evictions and rental bidding. However, O’Brien says he is concerned about the State Government’s silence about this review ever since.
“The State Government has remained tight-lipped about its progress on the 14 promised reforms and any other changes since the initial announcement,” says O’Brien.
“Meanwhile, we still hear from tenants every day who are being adversely affected by these issues – from facing unfair evictions to struggling to find affordable rental properties in a market rife with rental bidding.”
He urges the State Government to reveal more detail about the promised reforms and set a firm date for their introduction to Parliament this year.
“The best thing the State Government can do today is to keep their promise to make renting fair for over 1.5 million Victorian tenants by setting a firm date to get it done.”