If we’re going to be renting forever, these are the five changes that need to happen.

australian rental laws

If the Australian housing market wasn’t depressing enough in its current state, it’s now being predicted millenials will be likely to rent for the entirety of their lives.

So, with more renters entering the market, it’s only reasonable that we start asking for more rights in return.

Here are five of the archaic rental laws we think need reviewing.

1. The length of lease terms.

It’s estimated a huge number of Gen X and Y renters will remain in the market for the entirety of their lives, never crossing over to the home-owner promised land. With decades ahead of us, the issue of lease terms needs to be reconsidered.

Currently the standard lease term throughout Australia is 12 months, and while it’s often possible to negotiate for less, it’s harder to negotiate for more. Yet in major rental cities throughout other parts of the world (think New York, Berlin, Paris) lease periods are offered for as long as 10 years.

The larger amount of time not only offers the property owner certainty of long-term income, but also allows the renters to truly settle and emotionally move into the space without fear of having to pack everything up again and re-enter an already treacherous market just one year later.

Watch: “It’s just really out of the question for me,” one renter says about home owning. (Post continues after video.)

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2. The definition of wear and tear (and how it affects your bond).

It might come as shocking news to landlords, but sometimes when you’re living in a space for an extended time the desire to hang a picture arises. It’s crazy, we know.

But protecting the bond of renters who decide to do something wild like hang a painting above their lounge is the dream of many a tenant.

And things like carpet? They tend to wear out with time, and sometimes spills are made.

Again, protecting the bond of people who have committed no crime but actually live (‘real life’ live, not ‘catalogue’ live) in the property should not be penalised for doing so, as they often are under the current tenant laws.

australian rental laws

It happens, landlords. DEAL WITH IT. Source: iStock.

3. The allowance of alterations to a property.

If you're lucky enough to find a space you want to spend years of your life in, the chance you'll want make even the smallest of changes at some point is high.

Maybe you'd like to build up a vegetable plot in an otherwise stark courtyard, or you've found floorboards underneath the carpet that would look amazing when polished up.

While obviously any request for changes should have to be approved by a landlord before action is taken, if your work in some ways increases the value of the property that should be noted in some way.

australian rental laws

Renters just want to settle down. Source: iStock

4. Allow renters to have pets.

While you might enter the rental market as a young uni student looking for nothing more than a dry bed and access to a shower, over time your needs are sure to change. Especially if you're spending your entire adult life in the houses of other people.

You might have kids, and even more likely, you'll probably want to buy a pet at some point. And that should be okay.

At the moment, there's no real consensus around pets in rental properties and agreements tend to run on a case-by-case basis.

If the expectation is that people will rent permanently, we need to have tenant laws that accept they will be in different stages of their lives throughout the process. (Post continues after gallery.)

5. The creation of clear guidelines around sublet and short-term rental agreements.

Sometimes you need to move interstate for work, book yourself a month-long holiday or just plan to get out of town for the weekend and like the idea of someone else paying for the space you otherwise would.

In principle that seems reasonable but, again, sublet allowances and rules around services like AirBnB vary greatly from state to state and landlord to landlord.

As Jessica Irvine pointed out in her column in The Age last Friday, "If you want people to live in a property that you own, and you are happy for them to pay you for it, you do give up some of your rights as owner."

bedroom interior

AirBnB is just like renting, without the landlord profiting off it. Maybe that's why they hate it so much. Source: iStock.

The idea that we live at the pleasure of our landlords — despite paying them an inflated fortune to do so — is one that needs to change.

They need us just as much as we need them, and the sooner that's recognised in tenant laws, the better.

Do you rent? What laws do you think need to be updated?

Featured image: iStock

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