Ron is an active community member, volunteer, and disability pensioner on the Mid North Coast who was issued with a 90-day no-grounds termination notice in mid-2021. He has since sought advice from his local Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service and the Tenants’ Union and has managed to sustain his tenancy. However, his housing circumstances remain rocky and uncertain. Ron has shared his story with the Make Renting Fair campaign in the hopes his story can help show how unfair the system can be for renters, and encourage other renters who are being treated unfairly to reach out for help and campaign for change.
My name is Ron. This is ‘Hope’, a true story about my renting experience.
I have been living on the Mid North Coast for over twenty years now. Back when I moved to Macksville NSW as a single dad with my son, life was far different and much easier. A few years after living in the main town I had the opportunity to move onto a rural property just ten minutes out of town. We soon made friends with neighbours and settled into the country style of living. Unfortunately, a few years down the track my health deteriorated and I had to go onto the Disability Support Pension (DSP). But, I persevered and raised my son, re-married, had two lovely daughters, divorced and moved on. My children are my world, and it is so important to me that I can make sure they are happy and can succeed.
Fourteen months ago, my renting situation took a massive turn for the worse after the real estate agent pushed for me to take on extra mowing outside of my home’s property boundary. I refused for a number of reasons: this was outside of my lease conditions, would cost me more money in fuel for the mower, and my physical disability would have been impacted by the extra mowing.
Within the week of my refusal I received my first ninety day ‘no grounds’ eviction notice.
I suffered immediate shock and despair. I’ve lived and raised children in this home for almost 20 years, and over that time I’ve done nearly all maintenance myself, or paid for it out of my own pocket. I am now in my sixties and news like this does not help one’s mental health. I didn’t want to leave my home.
I immediately started looking for new homes, but with the regional rental crisis I couldn’t find anything. I took every avenue to find another suitable place to live, I approached every organisation imaginable that was available to me, online and in person. I was fortunate to be pointed in the direction of the Mid Coast Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service and the Tenants' Union of NSW. This was invaluable, and I was able to get legal assistance.
I was determined not to give up my home without a fight - after all, I had done nothing wrong.
I wanted to go to the Tribunal but found out that as the landlord lives interstate, it wouldn’t help. I was told that the matter had to go to court and that I had to simply wait for a court order to leave the premises. After receiving a second 90-day no grounds eviction notice, and many months of futile searching for another home, I felt out of options. I feared I would end up living on the streets - which would also mean I’d lose the ability to see my children for their periodic visits. This situation has impacted my mental health to the point where I have been seeing a psychologist for a year.
In the last two weeks, I have received a notice that my rent will be increased by $50 per week. Although this is very tough, I still have a roof over my head for the time being, and can keep seeing my kids. I’ve been a lifelong renter, having lived and rented in various parts of NSW. I’ve always had exceptional tenancy records - I’m the sort of tenant that if you do the right thing by me, I’ll do the right thing by you.
A home, to me, means security: somewhere where I feel at ease and feel safe. But this experience has really opened my eyes to how quickly renters can lose our homes. We can get evicted at any time, for no reason, and it is so difficult to push back.
I’m happy I was able to access legal support to keep a roof over my head - I have always been treated with the utmost professionalism and respect by all concerned at the Tenants’ Union. I encourage other renters to get help when they need it, and also to join in with their campaigns and make things fairer for other renters.
The current economic times make me think of the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” - renters are facing hardship and need help, individual renters can’t do it alone. It will take a village to win the changes we need so that everyone can have a safe and secure place to call home.
Don’t give up hope, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.