More people are renting than ever before. According to the 2016 Census, over 1.5 million people rent their homes in Victoria alone.
Renting is no longer a transitional phase in life on the way to homeownership. The fastest growing group of renters in Victoria are aged over 55, speaking to major changes in the way we live as we head into retirement. The largest group of renters are families with dependent children.
As housing prices continue to rise out of sync with incomes, we are seeing more vulnerable people – including those from low-income households, students, migrants, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and those living with a disability or mental illness – depending on the rental market for their home, health and wellbeing.
Stagnant tenancy laws
Despite strong growth experienced by the rental market in Victoria, the state’s tenancy laws have not changed in almost 20 years and do not adequately address safety, stability and privacy for renters.
Research conducted by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) also found that Australia lags behind other countries in terms of tenant protections and rental rights.
Big challenges for renters
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence out there that renting in Australia not a walk in the park. A survey released by CHOICE, National Shelter and the National Association of Tenant Organisations proved it, finding that:
- 83% of renters have no long-term security
- 75% of renters agree that competition amongst applicants for rental properties is fierce
- 62% are scared to ask for a longer lease
- 50% of renters have been discriminated against
- 50% of renters fear being unfairly blacklisted
- 27% of renters experienced issues with pests (i.e. cockroaches, moths, ants, etc.)
- 21% of people have waited more than a week for urgent repairs
- 20% of renters experienced issues with mould that is difficult to remove or reappears
- 18% of renters reported that their homes were either difficult to keep warm or cool
- 14% of renters have avoided making a complaint or requesting repairs for fear of adverse consequences such as rent increases, eviction, bad references, blacklisting and bullying
More than half of the people surveyed also said they rent because they can't afford to buy a home.
Hope on the horizon
On 6 September 2018, the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 was passed through both houses of the Victorian Parliament and is on its way to becoming law. This Bill will provide renters with a balance of rights that will help give them safety, stability and privacy in their homes. Click here to find out more about how this Bill addresses the challenges faced by the state’s renters.