Tenants are claiming they are forced to put up with dangerous hazards because landlords can’t be bothered to fix them, knowing demand is so high they will have no problem finding new tenants.
A spokeswoman from the NSW Tenancy Union said some landlords even encourage tenants who put in frequent requests for repairs to leave by dramatically increasing the rent so they seek homes elsewhere.
“They can do this because there are plenty of others waiting in line for a rental home,” she said.
But landlords say renters are too demanding.
“Tradies are expensive and it can take weeks to get quotes and a tradie to come in,” one landlord said.
“Renters also don’t take care of properties like owners do. I pump more money into my rental property than my home.”
Dontrentme.com founder Anthony Ziebell said many landlords are spending so much of their income on mortgage repayments that they can’t afford to fix hazards such as faulty wiring or broken locks, even though they are legally obligated to.
This has been especially true in areas dominated by older housing, such as the inner west, where investors bid up to $1 million above reserve prices at auctions for run-down homes, he said.
This has coincided with a rent freeze and a $260,000 jump in Sydney’s median price over the past three years, which shrank the average rental return on homes purchased this year to 3.5 per cent — one of the lowest levels on record, according to Core Logic RP Data.
Investors with little money are hoping their tenants will foot the bill, Mr Ziebell said.
“Some are using bond money to refresh their properties claiming reasonable wear and tear as damage,” he said.
“In an ideal world I’d move house, but every rental home has 50 other couples interested and they’ll pay above the asking price,” she said.
“People shouldn’t buy investment properties if they can’t afford repairs,” she said.
Fair Trading commissioner Rod Stowe said part of the reason for the spike in complaints over repairs is a more streamlined system for lodging disputes, but added that debates over whether problems are wear and tear or damage are often inevitable.
“It’s nothing new. Tenants and landlords can have very different views,” Mr Stowe said.
MOST COMMON TENANT COMPLAINTS
• Poor insulation
• Rot and mould
• Electrical faults
• Malfunctioning appliances
• Tradies showing up unannounced
• Water leaks