JILL POULSEN
JILL POULSEN

My landlords suck, and they’re not the only ones

I THINK I'm going to have to buy a house.

Not because I want to and certainly not because I can afford it - I scoff smashed avocado like it's going out of fashion - but because if I have to deal with one more drama with my rental property I'm going to flip my lid.

And I'm not the only one.

The most recent figures from Queensland's Residential Tenancies Authority shows disputes between tenants and landlords have reached a record high.

The RTA was forced to intervene in 27,405 disputes between tenants and property managers or owners during the 2016-17 financial year.

More than 800 agents and owners were investigated for noncompliance with some of the most common breaches including failing to lodge a tenant's bond with the RTA, not providing documents such as entry reports and tenancy agreements, and unlawful entry to properties.

Now, plenty of attention is given to "tenants form hell", "poor" investors being left out of pocket by "rogue" renters, but little sympathy is given to those of us diligently paying off other people's mortgages, while constantly fighting just to get what we're paying for.

I've been renting for more than a decade and have dealt with property managers showing up unannounced, landlords who refuse to fix anything and being blamed for damage that was already there when I moved in.

But my latest experience as a renter has pushed me to the edge.

For years we’ve heard stories about bad tenants, but what about bad landlords? (Pic: Bad Neighbours 2 / Universal Pictures)
For years we’ve heard stories about bad tenants, but what about bad landlords? (Pic: Bad Neighbours 2 / Universal Pictures)

First there was the air conditioner that wasn't fixed for more than three months.

Three heatwaves, 12 phone calls, 123 emails and one breach notice later I finally got my aircon fixed … just in time for winter.

Then there was the internet connection.

Eight phone calls, three emails and one month spent playing board games I was finally able to catch-up on the episodes of Real Housewives of New York that I'd missed.

We were told it could take "months" before it was fixed but as soon as we threatened to withhold a portion of the rent the electrician was around the next day.

The property manager asked us to be patient considering the landlord had just shelled out for a new aircon and was now up for a costly repair to the internet line.

I politely pointed out that if the air conditioner had been fixed in a timely fashion the landlord would have had three months break between repairs.

But all of that pales in comparison to their latest stunt.

I got home Wednesday night, flopped on the couch but before I could even put my feet up my boyfriend dropped a letter in my lap that was popped in our letterbox from our unit complex's body corporate.

"As you would know, the unit's roof needs to be replaced, blah blah pack your bags and get out for at least four weeks," the letter read.

Being left high and dry is a renter’s life. (Pic: Bad Neighbours)
Being left high and dry is a renter’s life. (Pic: Bad Neighbours)

We did not know that the unit needed a new roof and we did not know that our only option was to move out for four weeks or agree to not entering our home between 7am and 5pm.

I only wake up at 7am, am I supposed to sit in the driveway and have my tea and toast for two hours before I start work?

Then there's my poor dog Lou. Whether we stay or not poor old Lou has gotta go while the work is carried out, the letter says.

While she loves humans she doesn't play especially well with other dogs so sending her off to a kennel for four weeks is less than ideal. She'd be no doubt be labelled a trouble maker and kept in solitary confinement.

Look, I get it. If the unit needs a new roof it needs a new roof. That's nobody's fault but how is it with only a month to go it's the first we're hearing of it?

Escalating house prices means more and more people are being forced to rent so I reckon it's time we stand up for our rights as renters.

Breaking a lease is harder than escaping from Arthur Gorrie and property managers know it - but surely even prisoners deserve an option when the roof is taken from over their heads.

Jill Poulsen is a Courier-Mail senior reporter.



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