This week is our #MakeRentingFair #MyRentedHome social media week of action. We're asking our community of renters: what does your rented home mean to you? For more information and instructions on how to participate in the #MyRentedHome week of action, click here.
If you're not a renter yourself, you can join the action by sharing and amplifying other renters' stories - here's one you can share now.
Catherine* has been a life-long renter who has moved 32 times - the first 30 of which were in the first 25 years of her life. Since she was 25, she’s had two longer-term stable rental homes, but is now facing eviction in the next year. Here is Catherine’s renting story.
Part 1: 2013
When Tom*, Gruff (dog) and I moved into this home we had a bag of belongings each, a foam mattress and and old black and white TV. Being used to being on the move, partying and adventuring around we intended to live there for 6 months. I had personally moved 30 times prior and was used to moving on every six months to a year.
During our tenancy I worked as a florist, waitress, social housing worker, public servant and now specialist case worker. Tom was a cook, construction worker, handyman, salesman and now software developer. We rearranged the house numerous times. Gruff died and Molly (another dog) was adopted. Richard* (my child) was born and for the last nine years has called this place home. Our close family members and friends have had a stint of living there for short periods.
We had new carpet laid, new kitchen installed, house repainted, two new stoves and two new heaters. Our neighbours to the left have changed every six months and our neighbour on the right has grown older and had various housemates. Tom and I had close calls health-wise and the house provided a place of refuge while we recovered. I completed 12 months' study from home.
Our landlord was amazing and when he died his son became our next wonderful landlord. The only landlord I have ever known to drop off Christmas hampers. The agent has changed three times.
When I moved in I was 25, I am now 41. We have lived in that tiny fibro shack for over 15 years. Today we handed in our keys, marking the end of our long tenancy. So many memories, so many beginnings and endings and changes, personally and externally. Farewell to this home, thanks for the stability and longevity. We went into that house with little and leave with a lot.
Now, Catherine is facing another move from a long-term rental home.
Part 2: 2022
In 2013 we moved into our current tenancy where we have been fortunate enough to live for 9 years. Our current home was sold, during our tenancy, about 5 years ago to a landlord who is renting it out as a short term investment. This has been his only way to secure his first home, being a renter himself. For our landlord it was a better option to have an investment property than buy his first home.
Our landlord buying this house as an investment was lucky for us at the time but he has told us he will be moving into the house next year and we will be looking for another home. I am so worried about whether we will be able to find anything suitable and affordable next year. I've been watching rents rise in our area and a lot of people are getting priced out and are having to relocate. Rising rents and the end of a job contract may mean the need for us to relocate to another area.
The first 18 years of my life, I lived with my mum who was a single parent, and we moved 18 times before I left home to live in share-housing. My mum and I moved on average once a year, sometimes twice in a year. Every so often we were able to settle for longer periods of time.
Up until the age of 25, packing my life up and relocating was a regular theme. I did this 30 times. It was normal to pack and go, during the first half of my time living at my previous home I would often need to reorganise the house to quieten the urge to relocate - I had gotten so used to adapting to regular change and it became a lifestyle pattern that was hard to break. The current tenancy and previous tenancy have given me the opportunity to settle and heal, to feel secure and stable. It has allowed me to offer a level of stability to our son that I did not have myself as a child.
When we leave this tenancy my son will have had the most stable housing I could have offered him throughout his first 18 years of life. I'm glad he has had that start to his life, this has allowed him to have a stable school environment and he hasn't had to worry about where he will live next.
I'm not sure what's going to happen next year, I can feel the familiar anxiety and concerns rising inside me again. Even after 24 years of good luck in the rental market, those old memories and worries come flooding back. It's been nice to have a break from the insecurities of short term rentals and I'm hopeful that we will continue with our lucky streak and find our new home, because that's what we have had, luck.
Having a secure home shouldn't be based on luck.
Since I shared my renting story, we have had to move twice. The first time was because we got the dreaded 90 days notice. Then, 6 months into our 12 month lease our new place was put on the market. We signed a new 12 month lease a month ago only to discover the heating that was advertised didn't actually exist. At the moment we have no heating and are unsure if the landlord will put any in. Our rent has increased from 440 to 750 a week.
*Names changed for anonymity.