Renting a house and have a problem? Here’s how to get help.

by Chris Lang on January 31, 2012

For rent

Renting is the most natural choice when you can’t afford to buy your own house (or simply choose not to). I bet almost anyone reading this post right now has had to rent at some point in life. And while renting is supposed to be quite straight forward – you find a suitable house, rent it, move in, and get on with your life – often unexpected things happen which interfere with this process, and throw us off balance.
When you, as a tenant, find yourself in a problematic situation, often you don’t know what your rights are, or who to ask, or what to do.

What can go wrong? Many things. Imagine that…

  • A door lock got broken and the landlord won’t get it fixed
  • It’s blazing hot, the air conditioning isn’t working, the landlord refuses to fix it
  • The plumber doesn’t turn up to deal with the leaking tap
  • The neighbours make too much noise and ignore your polite requests to keep it down
  • The landlord wants you to pay for fixing things you did not break
  • You want out of a bad neighborhood, but have months and moths to go on your lease

I know about all of these problems from my own experience as well as people’s comments on my blog posts about breaking a lease and what rights do tenants have.

So where do you find help?

Even though I personally am not in a position to give legal advice, I know who is.

I’ve made a list of organizations that exist to help tenants in difficult situations. These organizations do it every day all day, and have the experience and the power to advise you, or even to act on your behalf. I personally have contacted some of them in the past, and received sound advice that made it clear where I stood. I encourage anyone who has a problem with tenancy to go ahead and give them a try – often they can do more than you realize.

Help for tenants in Victoria

 Consumer Affairs of Victoria have a whole section on their website dedicated to renting. In addition, they can answer your questions, resolve a dispute, or help you file a complaint. Tenants Union of Victoria can help you by offering free and confidential advice (via their website, email of telephone).

Help for tenants in NSW

 The Office of Fair Trading  is doing a great job helping tenants in difficult situations (you can see some examples of their work in this video). In addition to the information on their website you can call them to get individual advice.

Tenants NSW  provide free, independent advice and advocacy services. They are a non-government organization that receives assistance from the Tenants Union of NSW, and are funded by the NSW Office of Fair Trading.

Help for tenants in QLD

 The RTA (Residential Tenancies Authority) provide information for renters on their website and can be contacted on the phone or via email. They also offer dispute assistance.

The Tenants Union of QLD is a statewide community organization that represents interests of tenants in QLD. They offer tenancy advice through their website, via email or on the phone.

Help for tenants in WA

 Tenants Advice Service in WA is a community legal centre providing advice and information to tenants. In addition to the information on their website you can get advice via email, over the phone or even in person.

Department of Commerce has a Renting section on their website, with some helpful information. You can also lodge a formal consumer protection complaint through them (see form on their website).

Help for tenants in SA

 There is no tenants’ union in South Australia. However, Anglicare runs the Tenants Information and Advocacy Service for people on low incomes. There is also helpful information for tenants on sa.gov.au website.

Help for tenants in Tasmania

Tenants’ Union of Tasmania has a telephone advice line and a face-to-face service. This is a not-for-profit community organization offering free services including tenancy advice, advocacy and referrals.

If you need legal advice, contact the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania  or the Hobart Community Legal Service. Consumer affairs and Fair Trading in Tasmania has information for tenants on their website.

Help for tenants in ACT

Tenants’ Union ACT has a very helpful website. If you can’t find the answer to your particular question, try the Tenants Advice Service, – you can give them a call, leave your name and number and they will call you back. ACT Office of Fair Trading offers complaint resolution services.

Help for tenants in NT

Tenants’ Advice Service (TAS) is a territory-wide community-based organization. They can advise you on your particular problem, negotiate and advocate on your behalf with the landlord or real estate agent or even help with representation in the local court. You can also contact Consumer Affairs regarding your tenancy issue.

 If you’ve had a problem as a tenant – please tell us in a comment below. If you’ve had the problem resolved, please tell us how. Thank you!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

tisme April 3, 2015 at 9:15 pm

QCAT is a waste of time , the landlord is represented by the realtor and the tenant has to represent themselves. the Ten Union qld is only available by phone for a coupld of hours a few days a week

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