An eastern Sydney man is beside himself after an almost 40 per cent rental hike came his way after years of battling his property manager to fix his mould-ridden leaky home.
Renters are beginning to feel the heat of interest rate rises, as landlords hike up their prices in response to soaring inflation.
Nick Brown, 31, has been renting a two-bedroom converted storefront in Chifley for $390 a week.
He said the property – while on the cheaper side of the market – had a persistent water leak that had been breeding mould spores all over his home since he moved in three years ago.
Two days after the leak was finally patched up, he received an email in his inbox from the property manager advising him that the rent would be increasing by an eye-watering $150 a week – a 39 per cent hike.
“They obviously knew they couldn’t justify it while the place was leaking and then the second it was done, they were like here’s the 40 per cent rise,” Mr Brown said.
Living in a mould-infested home
Mr Brown said he fell in love with the place when his friends who lived across the road told him it was up for rent.
“I wanted to be in the area, be by the beach, the rent was pretty cheap – it was great,” he said.
His cousin lived on the same street and his uncle lived just a few blocks away.
However, things took a turn a couple of months after he moved into the property with his friend when a leak began to form in his bedroom.
“It just got worse and worse, as they didn’t fix it properly,” he said.
“There were cracks over a foot long in the ceiling, water coming through them, mould coming out of the cracks and growing along the ceiling, water dripping through that onto the carpet and even a mushroom at one stage.”
Mr Brown said it became increasingly difficult during the 2021 lockdown when the other two tenants moved out and he was stuck with footing the bill for the entire rent.
The mould and leaks made it impossible to rent the rooms out, so he asked for a rental reduction but was rejected.
It continued this way for months, as he went back and forth with the property managers asking for the leak to be fixed. Mr Brown said a builder would repair the leak only for it to return.
‘Light at the end of the tunnel’
He said everything changed when he met his girlfriend who moved in after the Covid lockdown ended.
“We decided we were going to build a little life here and fix the place up so we could actually make use of all the rooms,” he said.
Mr Brown said he undertook repairs himself on a broken shower head and a leaky kitchen tap and cleaned mould from the ceiling and windows.
“And now finally the leak has been fixed and there was a light at the end of the tunnel and they’ve given us a big f**ck you,” he said.
When he asked the property manager to explain the rental increase, he claimed she said “it is to be expected”, as the price jump reflected the rental market prices for the area.
Forced out of rental market
Devastated by the dramatic rental increase, Mr Brown wrote to the property managers asking for some leniency.
He suffers from a rare genetic disorder in his joints that has made it impossible for him to keep working as a physical labourer and has been making the transition towards becoming an NDIS support worker.
“I’m 31 now and I have the joints of a 50-year-old, I’m falling to pieces,” he said.
“My plan was to wrap up the end of this year and then work as an NDIS support worker. I’ve already got a few clients lined up.
“I was going to take the financial hit of not earning as much money but now with the rental increase, that is not going to work.”
Mr Brown said the property managers told him the owner had no other option but to ask for a rental increase as her “outgoing” costs had increased dramatically.
He said he was now considering moving back home with his parents, as it was impossible to find another place they could afford to rent.
“I was saying to my girlfriend, I’m looking forward to some stability, not living in this constant state of paying rent for a place we’re only using part of,” he said.
“To just live a normal life and the second it’s done, they kick me up the bum.”
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