Older women live in fear of rent increases - report

New research from consumer and tenancy groups (CHOICE, National Shelter and the National Association of Tenant Organisations (NATO)) has shown that women over 55 who rent live in fear of rent increases.

 

The research also found that two in three (66%) women over 55 who rent have previously owned a residential home and no longer own it.

 

Renting is no longer a stepping stone to home ownership, but a housing option used at every stage of an Australian’s life.

 

Tenancy groups are calling for stronger consumer protections to ensure all Australians who rent are able to have greater peace of mind in their homes.

 

The research finds that 66% of women over 55 would find a rent increase of 10% very difficult or difficult to afford, compared with 39% of the rest of the population.

 

Debra, a single 62 year old from Victoria shared her story for the report saying:

 

“I’ve rented all my life and I’m 62. I can’t afford to buy, being on a disability pension. I long to be settled somewhere. [My] current landlord has ignored my maintenance requests for 4 months now. He won’t spend money unless it’s an absolute emergency and then only when threatened. One landlord… put in an illegal flue over the stove that did not let fumes escape to outdoors. When I said I was going to Consumer Affairs I was threatened with and got a notice to leave without reason.”

 

Dr Emma Power, Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University, says this is not an uncommon experience.

 

“Rent increases made it difficult for older women in my research to find age appropriate, quality housing and left many unable to afford food and utilities. Women described running out their savings and meagre superannuation to pay rent. Some relied on food pantries at local charities in order to eat.”

 

Erin Turner, Director of Campaigns and Communications at CHOICE said, “Australians have stronger consumer protections when they buy something from their local supermarket than when they spend tens of thousands of dollars renting a home. We’ve got families living with mould all over their homes and left waiting weeks for repairs - this simply isn’t good enough.

 

Under the Australian Consumer Law, Australians know that if we have a problem with something we buy, then we have the right to a repair, refund, or replacement. But when it comes to getting the most basic of our needs - shelter - Australians live in fear. It’s time for consistent and fair laws that guarantee every Australian has a safe, secure and affordable home.”

 

The groups launched the report at Parliament House in Canberra.

 

The full report “DISRUPTED: The consumer experience of renting in Australia”, is available from

https://www.choice.com.au/-/media/cb55695ea54d4f928802aa78b1b9c60a.ashx?la=en

 

5 December 2018.