5 December 2018
New research from leading consumer and tenancy groups, CHOICE, National Shelter and the National Association of Tenant Organisations (NATO), shows that women over 55 who rent also live in fear of rent increases. It also found that two in three (66%) of women over 55 who rent have previously owned a residential home and no longer own it.
Renting is no longer a stepping stone to home ownership, but a housing option used at every stage of an Australian's life. The groups are calling for stronger consumer protections to ensure all Australians who rent are able to have greater peace of mind in their homes.
The research finds that 66% of women over 55 would find a rent increase of 10% very difficult or difficult to afford, compared with 39% of the rest of the population.
Debra, a single 62-year-old from Victoria shared her story for the report, saying:
"I've rented all my life and I'm 62. I can't afford to buy, being on a disability pension. I long to be settled somewhere. [My] current landlord has ignored my maintenance requests for four months now. He won't spend money unless it's an absolute emergency and then only when threatened. One landlord … put in an illegal flue over the stove that did not let fumes escape to outdoors. When I said I was going to Consumer Affairs I was threatened with and got a notice to leave without reason."
Debra is not available for further comment.
Dr Emma Power, Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University, says this is not an uncommon experience.
"Rent increases made it difficult for older women in my research to find age appropriate, quality housing and left many unable to afford food and utilities. Women described running out their savings and meagre superannuation to pay rent. Some relied on food pantries at local charities in order to eat."
The groups launched the report, DISRUPTED: The consumer experience of renting in Australia, at Parliament House in Canberra and encouraging Australians to share their experiences with the #RentInOz hashtag.