The first national survey of housing tenants has revealed renters in Australia lack the power to demand standard property maintenance.
Tenants are putting up with poor-quality housing and many fear being evicted or blacklisted if they complain to their landlord, according to the researchers.
Many renters have contacted the ABC to tell of their experiences of being discriminated against for their age, pet bans and abusive landlords.
Many other people who talked to the ABC did not want all of their details disclosed for fear of retribution.
Here are some of their experiences.
Leisa: ‘The last straw was the day I found mushrooms’
After a series of maintenance issues — including mould — at their rental home in Hackham, South Australia, mushrooms growing out of the shower were the final straw for Leisa Yanner and her family.
Along with her husband Aaron and their three children, Leisa began looking for a new home — only to constantly be turned down.
It was only when they were inspecting another property, the 34-year-old voiced her suspicions to the prospective agent that her old agent would try and prevent them from leaving.
“The new agent called us later the next day and told us that our old agent was giving us a bad reference,” she said.
“I was able to prove that none of that was true, and this land agent gave us a chance! We love our new house, and have had no problems!”
Anne: ‘We had to bodge job it ourselves’
Anne, 24, was renting an old Queenslander-style house in Brisbane during the 2011 floods.
While luckily the house was spared from flooding, it didn’t stop the house from water damage which led to a leaky roof that dripped through the asbestos ceiling, and from the rear stairs falling in, leaving a 3 metre drop.
“Shoddy workmanship” meant the phone lines had been severed and when the real estate agent ignored her emails, Anne said she “had to bodge job it ourselves with electrical tape”.
Anne’s lease came to an end and the house was marked for demolition — but that wasn’t the end of her problems.
“The real estate still demanded we had the entire unit steam cleaned, and asked us to go back twice to clean dust off the windowsills and fix the oven — which next week we saw get tossed into a dumpster as we walked past.”
Ellen: ‘They said I was too young, don’t bother applying’
Ellen found it hard applying for her first property.
“The landlord came out and basically said you’re too young, don’t bother applying.”