A frustrated mum and her two children have been left homeless after what she describes as a "ridiculous" experience with a landlord, who still refuses to give the family their bond back.
Nicole who moved from Queensland to Victoria, had been "desperately" looking for a home during the ongoing nationwide rental crisis.
After inspecting the Melbourne property — which was advertised online as clean and tidy — she pointed out things that needed to be fixed and was "rest assured" by the real estate agent all would be repaired by the time she moved in.
Mum forced to deal with endless rental issues
When moving in on October 27 of last year, Nicole and her young children walked in to a variety of issues and a casual "birthday banner still stuck on the walls" from a previous tenant.
"So at this point, I had broken windows, rubbish throughout the house and yard," she told Yahoo News Australia. "The kitchen sink was being held together with part of a Best & Less bag.
"And then I started to notice other things like the heating needs to be fixed — I couldn't get the oven and dishwasher to work.
"I have small children and I have animals and I've got no [working] cooking facilities. Being a single parent right now is already hard enough without having the stress about the house you're living in."
Additionally, Nicole said she found an "odd trap door leading to a basement", which had "a foot of water in it".
"The real estate blew it off and said, 'Oh, we didn't even know it existed'. So it was actually never on my entry report at all," she said. Despite repeatedly raising all the issues with the real estate agency. "They decided to just sweep it under the rug," she said.
After deciding to take the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) in May, the hearing established the broken windows, dishwasher and oven needed to be replaced, the heating needed to be fixed and the basement flooding needed to be repaired.
However the mum was then issued a notice to vacate due to major work having to be done on the house — triggering the end of the rental agreement.
She also claimed she was only given the rental's condition report at this point — which was done three days after moving into the property — meaning "they had been sitting on this report that this house was unliveable".
Landlord refuses to give bond back, family becomes homeless
After moving out on June 13, the family weren't able to find another rental and are currently living in Nicole's brother's backyard in a rooftop tent on her car.
"My children and I are currently homeless and there's not really anything I can do," she said. "I am fortunate that I have a brother who's letting me crash in his backyard — he doesn't have a house big enough.
"And the best thing about the backyard is I still have cooking facilities in the house. So I'm better off in the backyard then I was in that house anyway."
On top of everything, the landlord is reportedly refusing to release Nicole's bond payment of $2,300, which is inclusive of a $500 pet bond. A landlord is not permitted to request a pet bond in Victoria.
"I spoke to the real estate and he's said, 'no, the owner shouldn't be claiming these things that weren't done when he moved in'. It's just ridiculous," she claimed.
What can she do about being treated unjustly?
Nicole has a second VCAT hearing coming up this month about the repairs not being done in time. She was also advised by Tenants Victoria to bring up the issue of the bond as well as compensation.
"I'm pretty sure I deserve to be compensated for all the crap that I've gone through," she said. "There's not really a lot I can do at this very point in time as there's a long wait on compensation and bond claims."
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