Rent or buy your own home? It’s a lifestyle question that everybody has to answer. Many who choose to rent could be facing fears that keep them up at night. Here are five of the most pressing concerns for renters.
1. Unexpected rent rises
Carolyn Parrella, executive manager of Terri Scheer Insurance says while it’s reasonable for landlords to raise the rent on occasion, finding room in the household budget to accommodate an unexpected rent rise can be stressful.
“Landlords should take a considered approach to rent reviews and give tenants plenty of notice,” Ms Parrella says.
“If a tenant feels that a rent increase is unreasonable, they may be able to request an assessment from the residential tenancy authority in their state or territory.
“Tenants who commit to long-term leases may be able to negotiate for better terms such as fixed or lower rent. This provides both the tenant and the landlord with financial security.”
2. Homeless pets
Moving to a no-pet property and having to rehome a beloved pet can be heartbreaking for tenants.
“While there are more no-pet rentals than pet-friendly properties, it doesn’t have to be that way,” Ms Parrella says.
“Landlords should consider making their property pet-friendly as it can improve the profitability of their investment by opening a wider pool of prospective tenants.
“Tenants may be expected to pay a pet-related bond for potential damages, however it’s likely many tenants will oblige if it means keeping their furry or feathered friends.
“Some insurance policies also provide landlords with protection should a pet damage the property.”
Despite confusion about what constitutes blacklisting, a recent report, Unsettled: Life in Australia’s private rental market by Choice, National Shelter & NATO, found that half of all tenants fear blacklisting by their landlord or property manager.
“However, the reasons cited for these fears are not valid grounds for blacklisting,” Ms Parrella says.
“Tenants can only be blacklisted for breaching their lease agreement or continued arrears when a lease is terminated.”
4. Losing bond money
“Bond money can be a significant outlay for renters,” Ms Parrella says.
“Generally, this is four weeks’ rent, which might be more than $2,000 in upfront costs.
“Tenants should be able to feel comfortable living in their home but may be nervous or worried about making a mistake and losing their bond money. Something as minor as a spilled drink staining the carpet could be enough for the landlord to withhold the bond money for reparation costs.
“Both tenants and landlords should be aware that general wear and tear is not a reason to withhold bond money. Bond money can be retained when money is owed to the landlord or property manager, including instances of unpaid rent and damage.
“Tenants who treat the rental property as though it were their own home and pay their rent on time are most likely to get their bond money back.”
5. Lease renewal/cancellation
People rent for many different reasons. While it can provide a flexible lifestyle, some tenants may fear the uncertainty of not having their lease agreement renewed.
“In some instances, tenants may be told they are having their lease cancelled and that they have to move out within a short time frame. This can be extremely stressful,” Ms Parrella says.
“There are many reasons a landlord could cancel or not renew a lease, which are often beyond the tenant’s control. For example, landlords may sell the property or develop it. We encourage landlords to give their tenants as much notice as possible if they do not intend to offer a renewal of the lease. Likewise, tenants should indicate their preference to stay in a property well ahead of lease renewal if the opportunity arises.”