Renters have hit back at an Aussie landlord advertising a room with an outdoor private shower and toilet, arguing that the bathroom “isn’t the attraction old mate thinks it is”.
In a listing which has since gone viral, the owner describes the $300 a week property in North Queensland’s Whitsundays Region as having “plenty of character” with a “private toilet shower” and shared kitchen and patio, adding that it “would suit tourists here for working visa”.
But “plenty of character” may be putting it lightly. A series of photos show the bathroom — which appears to have been built under the patio roof — has been constructed using privacy screens for walls and a few concrete pavers and stones for a floor with plants growing in the middle and a rain head shower over the toilet.
“I have no words,” one person wrote about the Cannonvale listing. “Not a fan of pre-dampened toilet paper, it’s a no from me,” another said. “Who wants to shower or s**t outside,” someone else asked.
“He’s after tourists and people on working visas... I’m sure everything is definitely above board and as it should be,” added another, while others pointed out that two bedrooms were actually part of one larger space, with no door separating the two.
Is the property legal?
While a lot depends on whether this listing falls under the Residential Tenancy Agreement or Rooming Accommodation Agreement, Queensland’s new minimum housing standards do apply to both.
Unfortunately though, “those standards are quite minimal,” according to Dr Chris Martin, Senior Research Fellow at the University of NSW’s City Future Research Centre, which studies the urban challenges of city equity, housing, productivity, sustainability, resilience, governance and renewal.
“They say things like premises must be weatherproof, structurally sound and in good repair,” he told Yahoo News Australia. “I can't say from the photographs whether those sort of rattan blinds are weatherproof and structurally sound so there's at least a question about that, and a bunch of other questions as to whether those things might offend the very minimal minimum standards.”
The rise of ‘weird properties’
Tragically, in the midst of Australia’s house crisis — with soaring demand, not enough properties, and spiralling prices — this strange listing is far from unusual.
“The very tight housing market we've got at the moment is drawing onto the market a whole lot of weird properties that would not otherwise get a look in times when things aren't so tight,” Dr Martin said. “And Australian rental market regulators don't do a whole lot of enforcement or regulating.”
He went on to explain that the enforcement of regulation is mostly left up to tenants to make a complaint or sue the landlord because they've breached the agreement and haven't provided premises according a prescribed term of the tenancy agreement
“So there's not a lot of actual formal regulatory action that takes place by tenancy regulators against landlords who are doing the wrong thing,” Dr Martin said. “And I think this really exposes that deficit that we have, where we rely on the weakest players in the market — tenants and the applicants — to do the whole of the enforcement action."
But unfortunately that’s unlikely to change any time soon because renters are desperate and asking rents are escalating.
“It's a price signal for property owners, good, bad and ugly, to bring a whole lot of that housing stock that ordinarily wouldn't get a look in — spare rooms, decks, closed in verandas — onto the market,” Dr Martin said. “Property that raises a whole lot of questions about whether that sort of housing complies with minimum standards and whether it can support a tenancy or whether it's some other sort of agreement that has a different balance of legal rights and obligations.
“It makes things confusing at that part of the market and we really don't have regulatory agencies that police that sort of thing or really answer those questions. And we should.”
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