News: New survey uncovers widespread fear and anxiety in Australia's private rental market

Published in the SMH, Thursday 16 February 2017

At first it was just a bit of mould in the bathroom. But when repeated attempts to remove it failed, Lara Cook's real estate agent told her she would have to move out of her rented apartment in Coogee for four weeks while the bathroom was remodelled.

At considerable cost, she did. Upon her return she stepped in the shower – and the water pipe burst. The real estate agent told her the apartment was uninhabitable and she would have to vacate.

"That was on the Friday and we were out on the Monday," said Ms Cook, 36, who found herself once again thrust back into the competitive Sydney rental market.

"I've had to move three times in two years, and each time it's not been my decision – the landlord's come home or there has been a burst water pipe. I really want to buy somewhere soon, for this reason, but obviously it's very expensive to buy in this area."

Ms Cook is not alone.

The first ever national survey of renters' experiences has uncovered widespread anxiety, insecurity and discrimination in the rental market.

Once seen as a step on the path to home ownership, more Australians are spending longer in the private rental market.

Between 1994-5 and 2013-14, the proportion of Australian households who rent increased from 25.7 per cent to 31 per cent. And renting is no longer the domain of the young – 63 per cent of renters are aged 35 or above.

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