Published in the SMH, 3 October 2016
On what basis should a landlord or a real estate agent be allowed to evict a tenant?
Currently, they are not required to give a reason; the NSW Residential Tenancies Act allows tenants to be evicted on a "no grounds" basis.
But with predictions that half the population of NSW could soon be renting, tenancy advocates are increasingly arguing that new mechanisms should be established to give tenants the confidence and security to make demands on their landlords and agents.
Penny McCall Howard received an email from her agent at Richardson & Wrench Elizabeth Bay in July, telling her she would be evicted from her rented home in Dulwich Hill. The fateful email came just nine minutes after she had sent an email asking for repairs to be carried out before a rent increase, and objecting to the removal of a lawn mowing service.
Those emails had followed a history of back-and-forth between Ms McCall Howard and the agents in charge of the home she had lived in for the past five years with her partner Warren and, more recently, their young son, Benji.
The agents for most of the time she lived there had been tardy in following up concerns about broken fittings and consistently leaky roofs, she said.
When Richardson & Wrench were appointed earlier this year, they were more attentive to repairs. But this came with a proposed rent increase, and a dispute about who should take care of mowing the large garden - a service that had been provided previously.
Ms McCall Howard had agreed to the rent increase, but was insisting that repairs take place first and that the lawn mowing service be maintained.
Less than 10 minutes after sending an email to this effect, she received a reply from the agent saying he had discussed the concerns with the landlord and "we feel that the tenancy has reached the end of its life".
The eviction notice was posted that afternoon.
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