Rental Home Horrors & How To Solve Them!

N.B. The follow article has been sourced from: http://www.realestate.com.au/blog/rental-home-horrors/ and written by Caroline James. All About Rentals does not take any recognition in writing this article.

Every home – rented or not – has its quirks. But what if foliage starts sprouting from your lounge room brick work? 

Or no matter how much you scrub your dunny ceiling, a film of mould reappears within a week?

Tenants tell it like is

Sydneysider Debbie Carr will never like cockroaches after back-to-back rental homes infested with the hardy brown insects.

The long-term tenant’s trauma began with a two-bedroom apartment in beautiful Manly, which she rented for $650 a week.

Its previous tenants had been “a group of Brazilian boys; party animals”, Carr says.

“They had cleaned it when they left and I inspected it but admittedly not too closely and when I moved in discovered it was infested with cockroaches – so much so that it has affected me ever since.”

collingwood apartment

 

Carr told me of the  severity of the infestation: “There were cockroaches in the dishwasher, I’d pick up something like a plate and they would run from behind it. They were in the bathroom, once I had a towel on my head after my shower and I saw one crawl across it,” she says.

Carr reported the situation to her property manager and demanded immediate extermination of the property, which was granted.

She stayed another 18 months before moving to her current loft studio rental home in upmarket Darlinghurst earlier this year. She now pays $500 a week.

Unfortunately, hordes of cockroaches shared the home and, again, Carr demanded a pest controller fumigate.

“I couldn’t believe it, exactly the same thing, and it took nearly two months after they got exterminated to be able to cook in my kitchen.”

4 Handcroft Street Wavell Heights Qld

Jordan Cameron, 27, started scouting rental homes back in April and was “bemused” by the overall state of potential properties.

He’s been looking in Sydney’s inner-west and so far he’s seen some horrors including a three-bedroom house “with no internal doors”.

“I saw a place with just one window, and that was a tiny skylight,” he reports.

And spare a thought for Jaime Sky of Brisbane, who inadvertently discovered a former tenant’s sex toy in her former leased apartment in Cremorne in Sydney.

“The grossest thing I ever saw in a rental property was a vibrator in the back of a wardrobe,” she grimaces.

“My boyfriend at the time said ‘oh my god …’ I was speechless. I think I went into some sort of shock.”

What can tenants do?

No estate agent can promise a clean viewing – despite asking current tenants repeatedly to have a presentable house for OFIs. So it’s important to remain open minded. But if you spot unsavoury living conditions when viewing a rental the first thing to do is ask yourself: “Is it life-threatening?”

Principal of Nous, a consulting and leadership development firm, and former Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Claire Noone says the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 distinguishes between urgent and non-urgent repairs.

Tenants must continue paying rent while waiting for repairs to be carried out; landlords have a responsibility to respond to repair requests promptly.

What’s seen as urgent?

In most cases urgent repairs include:

  • Burst water services
  • Blocked or broken toilets
  • Serious roof leaks
  • Gas leaks
  • Dangerous electrical faults
  • Flooding, storm or fire damage
  • Failure of any appliance used for cooking, laundering, heating, hot water or water

All of these must be addressed immediately.

“It is important for all parties to communicate all information about repairs in writing, and to keep copies for future reference,” Noone says.

And if the issue is less dire

Non urgent repairs are things such as:

  • Ingrained mould
  • Broken cupboards
  • Missing doors
  • Vines growing from rafters

When rental home repairs are deemed non-urgent, tenants should give landlords or agents a list of repairs that need to be done.

State by state

Each state varies slightly in their laws.

In Victoria, if a landlord does not carry out the repairs within 14 days, the tenant may send the state’s consumer watchdog a copy of the written notice with a request for an inspector to visit the property.

“The inspector can make a report on whether the landlord is in breach of their duty to ensure that the premises are maintained in good repair,” Noone says.

“If the repairs still have not been done the tenant then has 60 days to apply to VCAT for a repair order from when the tenant receives the inspection report.”

To find out more about your particular state contact the consumer affairs department in your area.