An east Sydney man is furious after being thwarted by a nearly 40 per cent rent increase after years of fighting his property manager to fix his moldy and leaking home.
Renters are beginning to feel the heat of rate hikes, while landlords are raising rates in response to rising inflation.
Nick Brown, 31, rents a converted two-bedroom storefront in Chifley for $390 a week.
He said the property – despite being on the cheaper side of the market – had an ongoing water leak that had grown mold spores all over his home since moving in three years ago.
Two days after the leak was finally patched, he received an email in his inbox from the property manager telling him the rent would be increasing by a whopping $150 a week — a 39 percent increase.
“They obviously knew they couldn’t justify it while the place was leaking and the second it was done they thought, here’s the 40 per cent increase,” Mr Brown said.
Living in a mold infested house
Mr Brown said he fell in love with the house when his friends, who lived across the road, told him it was for rent.
“I wanted to be in the area, on the beach, the rent was pretty cheap – it was great,” he said.
His cousin lived down the street and his uncle just a few blocks away.
However, a few months after he moved into the property with his boyfriend, things took a turn when a leak began to form in his bedroom.
“It kept getting worse because they didn’t fix it properly,” he said.
“There were cracks in the ceiling that were over a foot long, water was seeping through them, mold was coming out of the cracks and growing along the ceiling, water was dripping through it onto the carpet, and even a fungus at one stage.”
Mr Brown said it became increasingly difficult during the 2021 lockdown when the other two tenants moved out and he didn’t have to pay the bill for the entire rent.
Mold and leaks made it impossible to rent the rooms, so he applied for a rent reduction, which was rejected.
It went on like this 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 fix the leak just for it to come back.
‘Light at the end of the tunnel’
He said everything changed when he met his girlfriend, who was moving in after the Covid lockdown ended.
“We decided to start a little life here and prepare the house so that we can actually use all the rooms,” he said.
Mr Brown said he made repairs himself to a broken showerhead, a leaking kitchen faucet and cleaned mold from the ceiling and windows.
“And now the leak has finally been fixed and there was a light at the end of the tunnel and they gave us a big fuck about you,” he said.
When he asked the property manager to explain the rent increase, he claimed she said “it is to be expected” as the price jump reflected rental market prices for the area.
Forced out of the rental market
Devastated by the dramatic rent increase, Mr Brown wrote to property managers asking for leniency.
Suffering from a rare genetic disorder in his joints that makes it impossible for him to continue working as a manual laborer, he has made the transition to NDIS support worker.
“I’m 31 now and have the joints of a 50-year-old, I’m falling to pieces,” he said.
“My plan was to complete the end of this year and then work as an NDIS Support Engineer. I already have a few customers in line.
“I wanted to take the financial hit of not making as much money, but now with the rent increase, that’s not going to work.”
Mr Brown said property managers had told him the owner had no choice but to ask for a rent increase as their “outgoing” costs had risen dramatically.
He said he was now considering moving back home with his parents as it was impossible to find another apartment they could afford to rent.
“I said to my girlfriend I’m looking forward to some stability and not constantly paying rent on an apartment that we only use part of,” he said.
“Just living a normal life and the second it’s over they kick my butt.”
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