Renters with disability face additional challenges: report

Australians with a disability who rent are presented with additional challenges and barriers in the private rental market, according to a new report released this month.

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Disrupted; the consumer experience of renting in Australia, is the second report commissioned by CHOICE, National Shelter, and the National Association of Tenant Organisations (NATO), that delves into the experiences of Australian renters and the issues they face.

It found that Australian renters with a disability are almost 2.5 times more likely to experience issues with home inspections from their landlord than other people who rent.

A survey of 1547 renters also revealed that 16 per cent of those with a disability have been served with a ‘without grounds’ eviction, compared with nine per cent of the rest of those surveyed who rent.

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Almost six in ten (58 per cent) renters with disability had to pay for removalists when last moving properties, compared with 46 per cent of renters without disability, and 92 per cent expressed a concern about the ‘stress caused by the effort needed to move’ in their last move, compared with 82 per cent of the rest of those renting.

Thomas, a 51-year-old living in New South Wales on a disability support pension shared his renting experience in the report.

He said he currently has a hole in his bathroom ceiling that hasn’t been repaired for six years.

“The ceiling is mouldy, which they say is my responsibility. I complained of a hot water system leak, which they left until the floor swelled and the tiles broke and the cupboards softened. I had to stay at a friend’s for two months while they repaired the kitchen. At a previous flat, termite damage was unrepaired for over a year, and then the rent was raised. When I complained I was evicted with six weeks’ notice.”

Tenants Union of NSW senior policy officer Leo Patterson Ross said the relationship between landlords and tenants needs an urgent rebalancing.

“None of us should find it acceptable that our families and loved ones have to deal with such substandard housing in such a wealthy country,” he said.

“This research shows the need to make renting fair. As we head into an election next year, all parties should show leadership on this issue.”

Shelter NSW CEO Karen Walsh said that Australia needs a housing system that addresses the three main challenges facing renters – poor quality housing, insecurity and a lack of low-cost rental housing.

“We need to see renting differently. We need to strive for a renting sector that is vibrant, diverse, and professional, providing high quality housing. Renting provides a home for almost one in three Australians, and that home should be a secure and quality one,” she said.

To view the report, click here.

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