Renting Is Such A Buzz…….

Have you ever rented your home?

I don’t mean single man/woman renting somewhere to live for a while, a room, an apartment – somewhere to camp while engaged in the young, furious, totally engrossing business of living….

I mean family people renting a ‘home’ for their family.

I never see it discussed.

We have newspapers that are so big, even today when they’re supposed to be dying, that it takes a crane to pick one up and they print every stock market price possible, they list every horse race, they give intimate details of every asinine hollywood ‘star’ they can find… but when it gets to renting all they’ll do is discuss for a short while how the rising rents may effect the average person.

They’ll discuss, if you search for it, at much greater length how the well-heeled (or aspiring) capitalist will be effected in their profit making by rising rents (which, it goes without saying, aren’t rising fast enough for them).

But they never discuss the grim realities of Renting For a Family.

And I think most people are unaware of it, them, those ‘grim realities’.

Let me tell you some of them and try to make you appreciate the impact of them:

I speak here of private rentals. Renting from the Government in ‘housing trust’ or ‘housing commission’ or whatever it might be called shares some of these problems but not all. Overall renting from the government is much to be desired as against private.


. Tenure

Every six months or, at best, probably, one year, you have to search the papers and the internet to find another place to live. Because you don’t know if your lease will be continued.  It may not be  renewed.  You don’t know. You can’t know.

Usually you can’t talk to the owner. Only to his ‘agent’.  The ‘agents’ of course are totally on the side of the owner.  Why? Why can’t they be fair, impartial?  Well… think about it…

So you can only ask the agent and the agent will probably stall you and put you off and promise you… but you’ll really know nothing until it is virtually at the end of the lease.  It may be two weeks prior to the end of the lease when you finally hear that it will be continued… IF you agree to pay more rent.

So meanwhile what have you done?  You’ve searched everywhere.  You’ve considered the hassles of moving everything. Estimated how much money it will cost to employ movers.. how much you can do yourself.

You’ve expressed interest at numerous places. You’ve tried to juggle your leaving time with times when a new place will come available.

You’ve planned ways to cover the gap if there is one… where to live, what to do with your stuff, if you have to get out and the next place isn’t available until three or four weeks later… or more…

All your plans are contingency plans… you can’t give anyone a definite ‘yes’.  Everything depends upon hearing from the owner, via the agent.

If your are on six month leases then perhaps it took a month to get settled in and you must begin this work a month before the end: you’ve had a bare four months of relative ‘peace of mind’.

. Moving

If you have to move then you are up for costs which are not in any way cheap and probably some hard work and definite disruption to the family routine which may involve disruption to actual getting-to-work.  i.e. you might have to take time off from work.. more money lost.

Moving means disruption or change to neighbours, friends, patterns of life, children’s habits, friends, favourite haunts…..

Moving often means dumping stuff there’s possibly no room for in the new premises, or which wouldn’t survive the move or which was simply too hard to move or there turned out not to be space for or which was purpose built or bought or designed for the existing circumstances/premises and which would be useless in the place you are going to: a lawn mower for instance when moving to a place with no garden, no grass, such things as that.

Moving is hard when you do it and Renters do it far more often than the rest of us and even when they are not doing it – the threat of having to do it is always there.  It is terrible.

Lifestyle, truth, promise, fairness, justice.

Some fancy words there but what I mean is that when you contract to rent a place the landlord can renege on his promise and you can’t.

How so? I suppose every true lawyer and every backyard barrister and every honest landlord will emphatically deny this.

Well not so. Take a look at: These Garden Pics

They represent the garden in a house we once rented.  We took the place, which had many drawback, mainly because of the garden.  I show you the pics because it gives you some idea of how we felt about it, the beauty we found in it, the happiness it brought to us.

The garden made up for the cracked concrete of the ancient stone place and the cement and plaster dust that you always get in them. Made up for the difficulty of having to park in a very narrow drive with walls at each side so’s getting in and out of the car was a squeeze – but no other choice.

And with two cars: always shunting in and out.

Made up for the shower which trickled cold water,  for the lack of a bath, for the cracked, dirty, torn floor coverings….

Made up for being Renters, for living that miserable life, in large part.

For the garden had three great gum trees, one of which, the pride and joy, stood right in the centre of the garden and soared up to the sky and shaded the ground beneath to offer some relief from the searing summer sun… to give a chance for some soft grass to be tended and grow, to allow the children some place to play…

A micro climate these gums created.  So that all those plants in those pictures were able to thrive.

So that on searing summer days you could ‘wander’ through this tiny garden, making paths around the bushes and between the gums and the saplings….

You could sit in different spots and find totally different views… some so dense with vegetation you couldn’t hardly see the house and could imagine yourself in the country.

It was very beautiful.

The landlord had all the gums cut down. While we were living there. During the course of the tenancy, before we knew if we’d have a continuation or not.

And turned the garden into a desert.

Destroyed totally the biggest part of what we’d contracted to rent.

Reneged utterly on his agreement.

Cheated us totally.  Remorselessly.  And with deception.  For one gum died from an infestation and he asked us if it would be alright for the men to come in at such and such a time to remove that gum.

And we said alright to that.  And he had the other done.

And don’t imagine it was any other than callous deception because had there been any desire, any wish, any thought whatever to mitigating the destruction of this asset, this beauty, this integral part of our life in those premises, there would have been some talk and some attempt….  Plant more?

But nothing.

And then it happened that when we learned that the lease was not to be continued unless we paid more – yes, pay more, for less – we decided to leave as soon as possible and asked the agent (because we couldn’t talk to the owner) if we could leave early by a few weeks because another place was available… well, actually, the place we bought ( with extreme difficulty but sick, sick, sick of this rental thing..).

Thinking the landlord was doubtless keen to do something with the place, now the garden was a wilderness looking like a bomb cratered scene of destruction.. and the house always with many problems…   then the sooner we were out the quicker he could get started, get finished and relet or sell…

And, yes, the agent said ‘yes’, sent us a letter saying ‘yes’.

So we went.

And then found the owner, via the agents (creatures of the owner) would not return our bond monies… a substantial amount and we strapped for a dollar now…

Claiming we had left, quit the lease, before we should and were liable to pay out the lease.

Now we had this letter.

But we had to front the Rent Tribunal.  True.

Why?  Because, it turned out, the letter should never have been written.  The employee of the Agents who wrote that letter and gave us that permission made a decision his superiors did not agree with.

But, as an authorised agent of the agents his decision was valid.

So: they sacked him (charming) and STILL tried to steal our money in the Rent Tribunal!

They sacked him because they knew he’d given us valid permission.

Knowing we had valid permission they STILL tried to get (to retain, they’d always had it, of course) our money.

Now if that isn’t a cynical, unfair, deliberate attempt at victimization and even theft then I’d like to know what is.

But here’s the point:  We went to that Tribunal armed with the permission, which settled the matter before it even started, but also keen to complain and air the question of the destruction of the garden.

The wanton, deliberate and deceitful destruction of the larger part of the value of the asset which we contracted to rent and maintain and which the landlord contracted to maintain.

What did the magistrate have to say about it?

‘Of no consequence’ he said. I paraphrase. After all this time I don’t remember his actual words.  But he was saying it doesn’t matter. The landlord could do what the hell he liked with the garden,  it didn’t matter a damn.

Why?  Because renters are trash, scum, rubbish, of no consequence and with no standing and deserving of no justice.

Then why did they give us ‘justice’ and decide for us with this letter in our hands?

Because of the letter of law, their law.  This was the magistrate happy to enjoy his day in the sun..  he was talking, man to man, to the agent and the business, his cronies,  people of  his ilk, those with whom he did business day after day, week after week, guarding their rights, finding in favour of them ninety percent of the time or more (we were told by others, is the general way of it).

He had nothing to say about the propriety of attempting in a court to win a judgement they well knew they didn’t deserve.  He heard them declare they’d sacked the man who wrote the letter.

His manner, his tone, his words were as one who talks to a friend and suggests you be a little more careful next time and never, ever write letters like this, which (unfortunately) meant he’d have to find for us.

Nothing to say to us about how we could conduct ourselves to avoid the rapacious attacks of agents and landlords…

So there, that’s  “Lifestyle, truth, promise, fairness, justice”.

For the Renter, all gone by the board.

. Make Your Environment Beautiful

You would think it a basic human right and need to make one’s environment beautiful, wouldn’t you?

But a renter cannot do it.

Under the guise of preventing a renter damaging a property there are laws and regulations and conditions that prevent a renter improving a property.

If you hang a picture on a wall you’ve damaged a wall.

Do you know how much money to get a nail hole/screw hole/rawlplug hole in a wall fixed?   It can cost hundreds. It could involve getting the whole room repainted.

If you hand a picture in some clever way that doesn’t pierce the wall – as we did in a previous (government) tenancy – then after time the wall around it will fade and when the picture is removed you’ll see a ‘shadow’ of the picture.

Up for repainting the wall – then the wall won’t match the room – repaint the room.  Do it yourself, save some money? No. Not allowed. They keep the bond. They employ a contractor. The contractor employs a painter at a nominal $50/hr and charges him out to the government (or privately, same mechanism privately) at $70 or $80 an hour.

What about building shelves, cupboards and such?  Don’t think of it. Not on.

Do some work outside? Garden path. No.  Do something to the shed? No.

Nothing, nothing, nothing. You can touch nothing.

You do not ‘have’ anything. It is not ‘yours’.  The Rental agreement is a lie, a con, a cheat. You haven’t rented IT.  You have rented a minimal use of it.  They want it back the way they gave it to you.

Nothing remains the ‘way it was’.  But a rented property must.

Oh, no, they say… there’s ‘fair use’ provisions.  There sure are. But how much attention do they pay to them? Nil.  You have to be prepared to fight in  Rental Tribunals and such and your chances are slim.

The renter is prohibited from making his/her environment better.

. Children, Free and Expressive.

You’ve got little children? Love to see them learning, doing things for the first time, expressing themselves? Drawing? Painting? Writing?

Not in a rented house.  A scribble on a wall can cost you dear.  A scratch on a cupboard.  A stain on a carpet.  Any signs of child life can cost you dear.

You must neurotically constrain your children from their first signs of life…

And there’s more.

What about ‘Inspections’ ? People from the Agents periodically poking and peering and prying into your home, checking off long lists of items…  great long lists… but never an item to cover things you’ve done at your expense in time and work to benefit and improve and maintain and fix the landlord’s property… never an item for that…

But enough.  This post has gone on long enough. Far longer than I thought it would, far longer than I’d like – probably far longer than anyone would wish to read.

Sufficient to say:  Pity the poor Renters.  It is a terrible inequity.  Their lives are destroyed.  Their lives are made into a living hell of perpetual constraint and perpetual anticipation of major expense and upheaval…  not good soil to grow a family in at all…

Contemplation of this does do some good, however.  It gives a faint intimation of what it must be like for those poor sods living in countries infested with war and terrorism…

We should fervently thank God, even if we don’t believe in god, for our Australia….   even those godless sods the landlords…

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