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Rental crisis: Tenant fumes over 'disgusting' state of new rental

Within moments of collecting his keys, the tenant was left bitterly disappointed by the property's condition.

Securing a rental property in the current climate is a huge win for most, but for one new tenant, signing on the dotted line has brought a new wave of issues to their door.

The resident of the rural NSW town of Orange, situated a four hour drive northwest of Sydney, collected his keys and rushed over to his new home on Tuesday — only to be wildly disappointed.

Left, a power socket in the rental property has exposed and dirty power sockets hanging off the wall with exposed wires. Right, the inside of a kitchen cupboard is covered in what appears to be mould.
The rental property had exposed and dirty power sockets hanging off the wall with the kitchen interiors filthy from the previous occupants. Source: Facebook/OrangeCommunityNoticeBoard

Greeted with a hoard of discarded items, overgrown grass, overflowing garbage, exposed power sockets and filthy kitchen interiors, the tenant was in disbelief. He turned to his real estate agent for an explanation, however, he alleges she wiped her hands of his concerns.

"See me in tribunal," the tenant claims was the response.

Desperately looking for assistance, the tenant turned to social media, with many urging him to take action, calling the condition of the property "disgusting".

Left, the tenant is holding open the outdoor bin which is filled to the brim with rubbish. Right, the bin can be seen tilted as it balances on overgrown grass beside discarded items scattered on the ground.
The backyard was overgrown and had discarded items scattered across the grass, with the bins overflowing with garbage. Source: Facebook/OrangeCommunityNoticeBoard

What can the tenant do?

Under NSW legislation rental properties need to be in "a reasonable state of cleanliness and fit for habitation by the tenant," with this situation a clear breach of this requirement.

The individual has options with how to navigate the matter, however, it's a precarious road for any tenant to walk along as it can pose negative repercussions.

"This renter can consider both the Tribunal and a complaint to NSW Fair Trading," Tenants' Union of NSW CEO Leon Patterson Ross told Yahoo News Australia.

"It is well-known that renters are not able to utilise the Tribunal effectively because they can be subjected to retaliation both through the use of no grounds evictions and in future references.

"Fair Trading has responsibility both for the tenancy law and also the agents licensing. This can mean that a complaint can be effective as well as having no application fee and minimal time spent," he continued.

The tenant could also potentially seek compensation by means of a rent reduction, as well as orders to have the items removed from the premises.

Left, one of the interior doors can be seen cracked with the handle falling off. Right, a group of bags can be seen on the grass outside filled with discarded items and a broken fan.
These was a number of discarded items littered throughout the property and the doors were cracked with the handles falling off. Source: Facebook/OrangeCommunityNoticeBoard

The "highly unprofessional" alleged response from the real estate agent highlights yet another difficulty tenants' face amid the ongoing rental crisis, with landlords and real estate agents accused of trying to capitalise off renters' misfortune.

According to SQM research, many major cities across the country have limited supply of vacant rental properties, compounding the issue and forcing renters to fiercely compete against one another to secure a home. Only 1.3 per cent of all properties are currently vacant in neighbouring Sydney, compared to 3.2 per cent recorded in March 2019.

"Given the difficulty of finding a new property, it would also be a difficult thing for this renter to move into another property," Mr Patterson Ross said.

The real estate agent's behaviour "indicates a cynical attitude towards the law and the tenancy contract," according to Mr Patterson Ross. "Seeking to avoid legal obligations because the renting system is so imbalanced is not the kind of attitude anyone should want to see."

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