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My rent rise rant

Date

Benjamin Law

Benjamin Law.

Benjamin Law. Photo: Miranda Tay

 

Once I block out the flea infestation and the mushrooms growing in the shower, I have nothing but fond memories of my first rental: a 50-year-old Brisbane Queenslander. Architecturally, the place was deranged. It had started as a three-bedroom home but at some point, someone had slapped on a kitchen and internal bathroom in an ad-hoc, devil-may-care fashion. But our landlord kept the rent low and everyone was happy.

Cut to a decade later and I'm still renting - albeit in a different city and paying much more. Some of you may be appalled. "But you are in your 30s! Surely, you must be considering buying?" Yeah, no. Apartments in my area sell at price points that cartoon villains like to cry out while evilly fluttering their fingertips. ("ONE MILLLLLION DOLLARS!") Some of you might be outraged. "You are a walking case study of a generation locked out of the property market and screwed over by baby-boomer privilege." You're preaching to the choir.

But honestly, I don't mind renting. I get to live in the inner-city at an affordable rate while avoiding the anguish that comes with auctions, body corporates and fluctuating interest rates. The only thing that gets me down? Insane rent increases. One Sydney-based friend has moved three times in three years, because her rent shot up 30 per cent with each renewal. In Victoria, landlords can push up the rent every six months with no limit.

If you think this should be illegal, it is - in other countries. In Germany, rent increases are capped at 20 per cent every three years. Landlords who want tenants to move out must give notice proportionate to the time tenants have lived there. As nearly a quarter of all Australian households are rentals, and this figure is set to rise, we need to think hard about what constitutes fairness for tenants. Meanwhile, my lease is up for renewal, and I have one message for my landlord: "Have I told you lately that I love you?"

 

29 comments so far

  • Outraged? Hardly. Todays younger generation aren't locked out of the property market. Like everything else, they want it handed on a plate..like owning their own inner city apartment and live a hip lifestyle. The world doesn't owe them so can they please stop playing the martyrdom card.How about they do what other hardworking people have had to do and buy further away from the city at more affordable prices, then commute to work? Oh, that's right, they cant do that, it would cramp their style and they can't afford to save a deposit because they're blowing their savings on more expensive inner city living? Us current home owners ALL had to start at the bottom. We dont need to think about fairness to tenants, they need to think about living within their means.

    Commenter
    Worlds-Smallest-Violin
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    June 07, 2014, 2:18AM
    • When I was young (1986) I got my first home in Coorparoo on a single wage. Today the same job would be paying around $55k ... do you think a young person could buy anything anywhere in Brisbane on a wage of $55k?? Bring back Sir Joh I say.

      Commenter
      Bob
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      June 07, 2014, 12:49PM
    • Smallest Violin - a much over-used term which, like similar phrases such as take a spoon of cement and harden up reflect the lack of compassion and understanding so rife in what was once a country that prided itself on the principle of the fair go.

      I doubt you have much an idea of how house prices have changed since the baby boomers got their start. I bought my first home on a quarter acre block in a large provincial city in Qld in 1984. Admittedly it was only 2 bedroom and in need of renovation but it was quite liveable and it was within 10 minutes drive of my workplace in the centre of that city. The price? It was about 1.2 times my annual salary which, at the time, was a little above the average male wage.

      I'll bet you London to a brick you cannot give me a single example of where that can be done today!

      Commenter
      Worried for my children
      Location
      Ashgrove
      Date and time
      June 07, 2014, 1:18PM
  • I am no longer a landlord, but I have been one and I support most of what you say here. The only thing I would add is that it must go both ways, i.e. if a landlord wants the tenant out then the timeframe should be proportionate to the time they've lived there, but if the tenant wants out, then ditto. Current laws in Qld give the tenant much more "outs" then the landlord, and with a lot less notice then the landlord too.

    Large rent increases are unfair but are driven by managing agents. They push 6 month leases because they get payment for renewing a lease, and it gives them a chance to jack up the rent more often so they get more commission.

    The place I had, had 1 rent increase of $10 in 4 years - I had great tenants, and if you're a good tenant then a good landlord will want to hang on to you.

    Commenter
    Dan W
    Location
    BNE
    Date and time
    June 07, 2014, 7:27AM
    • The Germans clearly do some intelligent and equitable things. A max 20% rent increase over 3 years allows landlords to cover costs and make a decent profit but limits the impacts of unfettered greedy capitalist market forces attacking renters. I have lived in places in Brisbane where a 15% increase was demanded year after year. You pay it or leave in most cases.

      One of my friends routinely adds the words 'FAR TOO MUCH RENT' to For Lease' signs in his area. It apparently has had a depressing effect on lettable properties in the area.

      Commenter
      James
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      June 07, 2014, 2:22PM
  • Good story , but I think there is also another story in the exorbitant rents that are charged for leases for shops by greedy landlords

    Commenter
    John
    Location
    Wynnum
    Date and time
    June 07, 2014, 8:35AM
    • I rent, I'm in my 40s, and I'm glad to rent. My rent is half what a mortgage payment would be, and I use that extra money to make sure my kids can do the extra activities they need. I don't mean movies and things like that, I mean the extra dance lessons and competitions, the music lessons, the invitation trips to special events etc. I would not sacrifice any of that just so I can buy a house that locks me into a work-to-pay-mortgage endless cycle. When my kids have left home, then I'll think about buying, but until then I'm happy with my priorities.

      Commenter
      wallet
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      June 07, 2014, 10:45AM
      • I happy to own and make additional payments to my mortgage so that I'm mortgage free in 15 years. No rent and no mortgage make for a happy life. Who wants to pay rent forever?

        Commenter
        jinmy
        Date and time
        June 07, 2014, 12:05PM
      • The smart people rent and negative gear investments. Let the taxpayer buy the home for you while your have the benefits of renting.

        Commenter
        Bob
        Location
        Brisbane
        Date and time
        June 07, 2014, 12:52PM
      • Maybe Jimmy but you could be dead tomorrow. Too much emphasis on "getting ahead" and locking oneself into a huge mortgage millstone..

        Commenter
        JL
        Location
        Brisbane
        Date and time
        June 07, 2014, 2:15PM

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