Victoria’s rental crisis: Mold, cracked walls and broken doors are spreading among rental homes on the market
Victorian renters encounter the unfortunate decline of torn carpets, moldy bathrooms and cracked walls as they turn up to inspect homes advertised with 15-year-old photos.
The true scale of the state’s worsening rental crisis has been laid bare, with homes openly advertised in poor condition even as rental professionals claim others are listed with misleading outdated photos, despite landlords demanding thousands of dollars a month.
Some renters choose to live in properties with unstable roofs, back doors that can’t close, and endure mold infestations rather than accept worse homes where they find themselves outside livable housing.
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A three-bedroom house in Collingwood was rented this week with an outbuilding described as adding “a touch of practicality to the lower level, enhancing your daily routine” for $650 a week online. The same house has a bathtub installed in a room barely as wide as a door.
In regional Victoria, a Shepparton home listed this week had carpets worn down to the underlayment, stained walls and visibly damaged kitchen cabinets.
Tenants are also being asked to consider spending $689 a week for glass-walled bedrooms in what appears to be a converted office block in Thornbury, and even a small CBD flat has a living space too small to fit a sofa but is still seeking $420 a week. . .
Jade Costello, co-founder and director of Rental Search Australia, said renters never knew whether they would arrive to find a reasonably tidy home or a dump, with the majority of properties listed using misleadingly dated photos.
“Nine times out of every 10 photos used in rental listings date back to when the property was last sold, and that can be almost 15 years ago, if not more,” Costello said.
“But there were so many rentals in between that period that the likelihood of the property looking like that is very remote and infrequent; it happens almost every time.
Rental Search Australia staff have also reported homes with no apparent form of heating, despite it being the minimum rental standard, as well as mold and damp – particularly in the bathrooms.
And with PropTrack data showing Melbourne’s vacancy rate fell to just 1.19 per cent in August, the second lowest on record, tenants are having to take the plunge.
Homes are still offered for rent despite more than 130 amendments to the Residential Tenancies Law that came into effect in 2021.
Although they were good laws on paper, enforcement remained an issue with repairs to broken toilets and mold remediations delayed in “too many cases,” said Farah Farooq, Victoria’s director of community engagement for tenants.
“Many tenants tell us they have to be their own ‘rent police,’” Ms Farooq said.
A single mother with two young children, who reported to tenants Victoria, shared how she felt “really unsafe” how her back deck was “unstable” with exposed nails, missing windows in the sunroom, other windows that didn’t close properly and a back door “attached with hook and loop climb” and it didn’t close properly either.
Victoria Real Estate Institute chief executive Quentin Killian said tenants, agents and rental providers needed to maintain open communication.
“We appreciate that minimum standards are important, and all properties must meet minimum rental standards,” Kilian said.
“We are also aware that there are instances where dealers may not be available or there is a shortage of spare parts, etc….resulting in delays in repairs.”
A Springvale property advertised online with torn and frayed carpet was updated this week with new photos showing repairs have been made.
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