A tenant living in a rental property in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Redfern was hit with a massive $700-per-fortnight rent increase.
“Because we're on a month-to-month basis, they're allowed to do this. There's actually no limit to how much they want to increase,” she said.
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Other users flooded to the comments to offer support and advice, with most agreeing the rent increase seemed excessive.
“There is such a thing as excessive and unreasonable rent increase though, definitely take it to tribunal,” one user said.
“That rent is more than my fortnightly pay. That’s unreal,” another said.
In a follow-up video, Schmidt showed water and mould damage, as well as broken floorboards, and asked her followers if they thought the increase was “justified”.
“Send them a list of required maintenance and say you won’t be paying the increased rent amount until they fix everything,” one user suggested.
“Housing in Australia is out of control. This isn’t fair. Your landlord should be ashamed of themselves,” another said.
What can tenants do to fight rent increases?
CEO of the NSW Tenants Tribunal Leo Ross told Yahoo Finance the tenant did have some options available to them to fight the increase.
“Tenants who are facing a rent increase that seems excessive should start by ensuring they have checked that the notice is legal - all increases other than those written into the tenancy agreement at the beginning have to be given 60 days’ notice in writing, and in periodic agreements need to be 12 months or more since the previous increase,” Ross said.
“Then, they should do some research about the price movements for comparable properties and consider whether they can find evidence that the increase is excessive.”
Ross said any tenant in NSW concerned their rent increase may be excessive could use the Rent Increase Negotiation Kit. This allows renters to input their postcode, property type, current rent and proposed new rent and a report will be generated to show whether the rent increase is excessive.
Using the tool, Ross said Schmidt’s increase was “much higher than relative rents”.
“Previously, this home sat roughly in the middle of the prices for the area but this increase would take it to the top end of prices. This is an indication that it may not be a reasonable increase,” he said.
“Renters should then consider whether they can negotiate with the agent or landlord about the price - our letter generator can be a handy document to use to start this discussion.”
Renters in NSW have 30 days from receiving the rent-increase notice to apply to the tribunal to challenge the increase. If you don't apply within the time limit, the rent increase is assumed to be accepted.
“Unfortunately, there are real barriers to challenging rent increases - primarily that renters can be evicted without grounds and the protections against retaliatory evictions do not ultimately prevent people losing their home if they do challenge a rent increase,” Ross warned.
“As NSW continues to face this renting crisis, whoever forms government after the election will need a plan to ease the pressures renters are facing across the state and ensure everyone has safe, stable and affordable homes.
“Replacing no-grounds evictions with reasonable grounds, ensuring fairer rent-increase rules are in place and a real supply of genuinely affordable housing are the key measures here.”