Experts warn Australia has a largely unrecognised problem of sub-standard housing with more than a million Aussies reported to be living in poor or very poor conditions, according to a study of rentals across Australia. The ABC reported a story that sheds light on this hidden reality.
David Billet and Craig Vrybergen have both been living in separate rental accommodation that failed to meet the requirements of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. In Mr Billet’s case, the house he had occupied for three years in Tasmania’s north-west was found by his local council to be, “so unhealthy that no person can safely occupy [it]”. Mr Billet told the ABC that it was the only rental home he could find in the area at the time, and he rented it directly from the landlord. Even though the foundations of the property were so unstable that he feared the roof would collapse and the property was riddled with widespread mould and wood rot, Mr Billet felt he had no choice but to rent it.
In Mr Vrybergen’s case, the rental property he occupied in north Hobart had no adequate source of heating. He told the ABC, “When you rent a house for hundreds of dollars, you expect to have a least some decent heating and a dry roof over your head”, adding that he was told by the agency managing the property when he raised the issue that it was up to him to supply his own heater, something they later claimed was an error.
Both men have since moved out of their respective rental homes and made complaints to the Rental Tenancy Commission however no fines have ever been issued to the landlords.
To read the full story, as published in the ABC, click here.
Unfortunately, this story highlights just two of many examples of similar stories all over Australia. In fact, a study of about 15,000 rentals across Australia conducted by the University of Adelaide in 2019 found a quarter of respondents lived in unhealthy housing. This led the researchers to calculate that around 1.1 million Australians are likely still living in sub-standard housing today, despite tenancy reforms happening all around the country. In the Tasmanian example, minimum standards for rental premises were added to the Act as an Amendment in 2015 and those minimum standards include that the premises must be weatherproof and structurally sound and must include adequate heating, amongst other requirements.
The ultimate solution to ensure property safety and compliance
The bottom line is every tenant has a right to live in a home where they are not subjected to the health and danger implications of cold, mould, structural instability, and damp. It is the reason we do what we do here at PropertySafe, we are passionate about helping landlords and property managers keep their tenants safe and sound and protect their valuable assets and reputation in the process.
The most comprehensive way to ensure all-round safety for tenants and provide peace of mind for landlords and your agency year-round is to get a professional PropertySafe Safety or Compliance Report. Conducted by experienced safety inspectors, the report alerts the landlord to all relevant safety, non-compliance risks and provides practical options to mitigate those risks, making your job easier and protecting all parties. After all, as a property manager you can’t be expected to be an expert on property safety when conducting your routine inspections.
If your landlords have never had a PropertySafe inspection completed before, now is a great time to suggest they have it done to ensure their property is safe, sound and compliant for the rest of winter. To learn more, call PropertySafe on 1300 350 000.