Australians With Disability Twice as Likely to be Evicted Without Cause
5 December 2018 at 5:29 pm
People with disability who rent are almost twice as likely to experience a “no-grounds” eviction compared with other Australians, new research shows.
A report by Choice, National Shelter and the National Association of Tenant Organisations (NATO) examined the consumer experience of renting in Australia, and found renters with disability faced a range of barriers that prevented them getting into or staying securely in rental accommodation.
This included difficulties getting timely repairs, facing additional expenses when moving in and out, and people with disability were also almost 2.5 times more likely to experience issues with home inspections from their landlord than other renters.
A survey of 1,547 renters revealed 16 per cent of people with disability have been served with a no-grounds eviction, compared with nine per cent for rest of those who rent.
"This scenario shouldn't exist – everyone deserves a safe and secure home." – @ErinLTurner @AdrianPisarski from @NationalShelter and CHOICE's Erin Turner share their thoughts on 'Disrupted', the rental report launched in Canberra this morning #rentinozhttps://t.co/aXggBZdxZJ pic.twitter.com/pvHAcGg7xG
— CHOICE (@choiceaustralia) December 5, 2018
Thomas, a 51-year-old renter on a disability support pension, shared his story in the report. He said he currently had a hole in his bathroom ceiling where rain gets in that hasn’t been repaired for six years.
“The ceiling is mouldy, which they say is my responsibility. I complained of a hot water system leak, which they left until the floor swelled and the tiles broke and the cupboards softened,” Thomas said.
“I had to stay at a friend’s for two months while they repaired the kitchen. At a previous flat, termite damage was unrepaired for over a year, and then the rent was raised. When I complained I was evicted with 6 weeks notice.”
Choice, National Shelter, NATO have called for no-grounds evictions to be banned across Australia, and for a national coordinated approach to rental standards.
“Under the Australian Consumer Law, Australians know that if we have a problem with something we buy, then we have the right to a repair, refund, or replacement. But when it comes to getting the most basic of our needs – shelter – Australians live in fear,” Erin Turner, the director of campaigns and communications at Choice said.
“It’s time for consistent and fair laws that guarantee every Australian has a safe, secure and affordable home.”
My #RentInOz experiences include having to pay for removalists after a no-grounds eviction – my disability means I can't do much of this myself.
I also got needed home modifications knocked back which would have made my home more accessible. This happens far too often.
— El Gibbs (@bluntshovels) December 4, 2018
The report also highlighted the difficulties people with disability faced when moving.
Almost six in ten (58 per cent) people with disability said they had to pay for removalists when they last moved properties, compared to 46 per cent of other people who rent.
Overall, 92 per cent of people with disability expressed a concern about the stress caused by effort of moving.
Dean Price, a senior policy officer at People with Disability Australia (PWDA), said these figures mirrored experiences they have heard.
He said the report clearly showed people with disability in Australia needed rental reform to feel secure in their homes.
“People with disability who live in private rental are faced with discrimination and the threat of losing their home. They fear no grounds evictions with good reason – this report shows that this is more likely to happen to people with disability,” Price said.
“This fear means they can find it hard to ask for essential repairs, adequate heating, cooling or action on mould.”
With 17 per cent of people with disability living in poverty, the insecure nature of renting created huge problems for them, Price added.
Turner said Australians had stronger consumer protections when they bought something from their local supermarket than when it came to renting a home.
She said people with disability especially needed stronger consumer protections.
“There are good landlords who are kind, compassionate and accommodating for people with disabilities – let’s make that the standard,” Turner said.