Sydney tenants say they were asked to vacate rental for requesting repairs

These renters asked their property manager for almost a whole year to fix dangerous defects in their apartment – ​​they say they were instead slapped with a rental increase and given 30 days to move out.

Sydney couple Faizan and Emma moved into their apartment in Sydney’s northwest in December 2022 and claim asking for repairs was the primary reason they were asked to leave.

It comes as rental experts continue to call for urgent reform of NSW’s tenant evictions policy, which they argue allows landlords to give unfair reasons to end leases.

The couple said that when they moved in they noticed a tiny amount of damage on the floors, but nothing to cause concern.

The damage became worse within a few weeks so they made a request to their property manager to have someone look at the issue.

Renter no grounds eviction

Faizan and Emma say they are being evicted for asking for repairs. Picture: Hunter Team.

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A tradesperson came in and attended the issue by putting sticky tape on the floorboards, the couple claimed. That was in January 2023.

Faizan said these measures didn’t comprehensively address the issue and it became worse as the months passed.

“Water was seeping up through the bottom of the floorboard, it was unsightly,” he said. “I slipped and cut myself and I was bleeding everywhere.”

He said they were constantly having to mop up water seep from the floorboards that started swelling, warping and caused mold to grow in their living room floor.

“Around July we said it was getting out of hand. We were embarrassed to have people over as it looked dilapidated in our living space,” he said

Renter no grounds eviction

A tradesperson attempted to address the issue with tape. Picture: Hunter Team.

Renter no grounds eviction

The damaged floorboards. Picture: Hunter Team.

During this time, the couple said they sent multiple emails and phone calls updating their property manager on the issue.

Faizan said multiple tradespeople had come through the property and told the couple there was a sealing problem with the balcony that prevented them from moving in.

In October, 10 months after the issues began, they received an email saying their rent would increase from $850 a week to $920.

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Faizan said he called their property manager to request that they come see the damage at the property. He said he told the manager they were happy to pay the increased rent once the flooring was fixed.

Renter no grounds eviction

The couple said they felt “abandoned by the system.” Picture: Hunter Team.

“This person was rude to me, yelling at me over the phone – all I had asked was next time you were in the area could you swing by the apartment to see what the problem was looking like,” he said.

Faizan claims the property manager said to him “if you don’t like the increase you can leave”.

“I haven’t been spoken to like that by any professional, that’s not the kind of behavior anyone should have to put up with,” Faizan said.

The couple sought help and advice from NSW Fair Trading and the Tenancy Union.

A few weeks before their lease was due to expire on January 24, Faizan put together emails, photos of the damage and lodged an NCAT (NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal) application.

Renter no grounds eviction

After escalating the issue to NCAT, they were faced with Picture: Tim Hunter.

The following day, the property manager sent them an email terminating their lease and gave them less than 30 days to vacate the property.

“We felt like we were being bullied by the property manager just because we asked for repairs,” Faizan said.

Faizan’s end of lease notice deemed the works emergency repairs – 12 months after Faizan alleges he first raised concern with the real estate agency.

“Now its an emergency?,” he said. “But it wasn’t when we were asking, they’ve known about it for the better part of a year, plus we are paying full rent.”

The couple claims that the property manager wanted to start the repairs during their notice period while they were still living there.

“We are sad and angry. We didn’t know what to do. We feel like we have been abandoned by the system.”

Renter no grounds eviction

Warping, sopping floor boards which Faizan said has caused him injury on more than one occasion. Picture: Hunter Team.

Leo Patterson Ross, CEO of the Tenants’ Union of NSW, said current eviction regulations needed to be changed.

“It reduces trust in renting and in providers of an essential service … Transparent and genuine dealings should not be something to be afraid of,” he said.

“Eviction reform doesn’t prevent owners from genuine grounds, but renters can trust that they’re not putting their home at risk by simply asking for repairs or negotiating a rent increase.”

Faizan and Emma are now looking for a new rental property amid the rental crisis. They have found it tricky, particularly because applications want a reference from the previous property manager.

Renter no grounds eviction

Emma, ​​pictured at the apartment. Picture: Hunter Team.

“One of the questions is how cooperative is the tenant, really behavioral based questions – they don’t demonstrate someone’s ability to pay rent,” Faizan said.

He said they always paid rent on time, and besides the floorboard issue, that the rest of the unit’s cleanliness was better than when they moved in.

“We have been left with a really sour taste in our mouth. It feels like there needs to be more rights for renters.”

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