Anyone who has spent much time in the residential rental markets of our larger cities would be aware that finding a place to live is a sport akin to gladiatorial combat, if said combat also involved a lot of paperwork and the winner also paid a large and ongoing sum of money following their victory.
Anyone who has spent much time in the residential rental markets of our larger cities would be aware that finding a place to live is a sport akin to gladiatorial combat, if battle also involved a lot of paperwork and the winner also paid a large and ongoing sum of money following their victory.
And also, if the spoils of battle were literally spoiled.
Everyone has horror stories about rental properties with a refreshingly idiosyncratic interpretation of what can be considered “hygienic” or “mould-free” or “not on fire”, and most renters have a pretty accurate assessment of how much power they have in terms of making demands for repairs or improvements or snake removal – especially when inquiries into the rental system repeatedly entrenches the rights of landlords over those of tenants.
Black mould, for instance, can trigger asthma another allergic reactions, or the mycotoxins it gives off can produce flu-like symptoms.
And while the landlord is legally required to mention if there’s been a violent crime in the property, they’re not obliged to mention whether, say, the place has been a meth lab. Despite the possibility of chemicals leaching out of the walls and carpets and getting into the skin and hair of residents, as in this study of one Victorian family which should make your skin crawl so hard it might actually escape.
Here’s the thing, though: this stuff diminishes people’s health and quality of life. And Shelter NSW have just put out their report Poor-quality housing and low-income households and… look, it doesn’t spark joy.
People on low incomes are most likely to live in properties that require repairs, to suffer from cold in winter and heat in summer,
People in public housing face regularly backlogs in repairs from government funding cuts, while private landlords often can’t be bothered paying for something from which they’re not going to benefit – assuming that the tenants are game enough to complain, given not-unfounded fears of being evicted for more compliant alternatives in the competitive housing market.
And they have some solutions too: unsurprisingly, it’s to mandate more transparent standards, for the most part so that everyone knows what standard is acceptable for human beings to endure in their shelter. And… look, good luck with that.
But in the meantime: when you’re inspecting properties, go in with your eyes and nose open.