A real estate listing for a “huge room” to let in Newcastle, NSW has sparked a council investigation over a minute detail many renters failed to spot.
The City of Newcastle has confirmed to Yahoo News Australia it is looking into the $300 a week room described as being similar “to the size of two big double rooms”, and located in a four-storey, six bedroom, three bathroom house on the “best street in Wallsend”.
It’s so big, according to an ad on Facebook marketplace, the room includes a double bed, lounge, coffee table, dining table and chairs, a big cupboard and shelves, and would be “suitable for a couple and a child or three students as there is enough space for two beds”.
But there’s just one glaring problem with the room in question.
Behind a huge wardrobe and several venetian screens are two large roller doors. Because this isn’t an ordinary bedroom.
“The room is renovated from a garage,” the ad explains. And it’s not gone down well with those on Facebook marketplace.
“It’s literally a garage, the floors are concrete,” one person wrote. The ad says carpet has been put down but is not shown in the ad. ‘“It’s huge cos it’s a room for a car..not a person,” another said, while someone else simply commented, “what the f**k”.
Others accused the landlord of taking advantage of desperate people. “Worth it? No,” a user wrote. “Possible to get a tenant during a rental crisis? Yes.”
Yahoo News Australia reached out to the landlord, who was also advertising for a double room in the same six-bedroom property, for a comment, but was told the “garage one [room] is not available”.
But is it legal?
The short answer is no, according to realestate.com.au, because under Australia’s national construction code a garage isn’t built as a habitable area, but rather to house vehicles.
However, it can be converted into a bedroom if you pass through several hoops including making sure you have adequate waterproofing and adequate termite treatment, meeting energy efficient rules, and all the other requirements.
But first you’ll need permission from the local council to reclassify your garage into a habitable room.
“Development consent is required under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (1979) for a change of use from a garage to a habitable space,” a spokesperson for the City of Newcastle told Yahoo News Australia. “City of Newcastle will investigate the matter to ensure the property has the relevant approvals in place and it meets the relevant development and building standards.”
Landlords put on notice
Amid a worsening rental crisis landlords are upping rental prices and desperate tenants are being forced to lower their standards. But landlords and real estate agents have been put on notice with the launch of a new name-and-shame website.
TikToker and tenants’ advocate Jordie van den Berg claims he’s “giving power back to renters” by urging them to write anonymous reviews of their rental property and real estate agency for his website Sh*t Rentals.
“As a renter, landlords and real estate agents have access to so much information about you, but you don’t get the same level of transparency from them,” he said.
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