Life in the burbs II

Doodle guy. Ink dip pen on paper

Doodle guy. Ink dip pen on paper

As problems have become more generally known a few people have reached out and told me of their own problems and thoughts on the matter.

One family with three children had been forced to move three times in two years. They had managed to get settled before their children were due to start school but considered themselves lucky to have found a place in the zone covered by the school of their choice. The mother, in particular, dreaded getting another termination notice in the middle of the year. She felt that it would be unlikely that they would be as lucky to get a houseĀ  within the same school zone. In the long term, if the pattern continued, she saw her children’s lives and futures being irreparably damaged by the constant uncertainty of renting.

Another person told me a tale of private landlords. This person had a pattern of having their tenancy terminated without reason. In their case they liked to live in homes or apartments that had good lawns, neat grounds and clean, freshly painted walls. As soon as they had those things under control the landlords would see a chance to make a rent increase andĀ  they would terminate the tenancy and advertise the joint with larger rents. I had that happen to me a number of times back when I was well-enough to work on things.

One person had been through Tenancy Tribunal hearings when the bond had not been lodged with the correct authority and then the moneywas non-existent when the time came for them to get it back. In that cases the agent had a record of simply telling everyone that some wear or tear on the flat meant the tenant had breached the bond. The person I was talking to had painted and repaired the inside of the place after another bad tenant had damaged it and they were also owed more than two thousand dollars for the work and materials. That meant another hearing at the Tenancy Tribunal. This person had the cojones to stand up to the agents and landlords in the tribunal but other people I have spoken to, many with children, or vulnerable people in some way, even begged me not to mention them in case their agents hit out at them the way mine did. They know as well as I do that for people with few resources (physical or financial) there is no option but to keep their heads down and stay well out of the firing line. If an agent or landlord says jump they jump and hope they did it well enough. I had asked a number of people for character references and statutory declarations for this court case. All of the renters refused in case my agent got onto their agent and made trouble. I am not really surprised as my own experience with real-estate agents and landlords has been similar. I just didn’t see the scope of what was going on and how many families it affects! The rental market is almost awash with dread and insecurity.

Someone may read this and feel that I have not given enough of the post over to those good landlords or tenants who have good landlords. I say this. After you have been abused a few times as a tenant or the more fragile and vulnerable your life becomes the more you realise what a knife edge being a renter is. Your good landlord today might sell to a real bastard tomorrow, or die, or just have other needs for your home. It is that simple. In a moment the whole support network you spent a decade learning to develop may be a thing of the past. Your children will be unknown new-comers in another school and trying to catch up and in the current abominable renting market your next home may include the back seat of your car. I can see every reason to be anxious. It is a wonder the Tenancy Tribunal is not able to prescribe Valium!

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