Leonie* and her family (her partner and her 3 kids) had been living in their home for 5 years. It was pretty run down – holes in the skirting board, leaks that had never been repaired. But they hadn’t had a rent increase since moving in, so they just lived with it.
"From my perspective we’d done a lot. We’d put up a fence and done the garden. We’d made it into a home."
In May Leonie received a rent increase letter. She got in touch with the real estate agent to let them know she was happy to pay the increase, but there were a number of outstanding repairs issues that needed to be completed. She was told ‘the landlord won’t go for that’. So she decided to make an application to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. She let the real estate agent know what she was doing.
That afternoon she got a text message from the agent letting her know they were terminating her agreement, and her termination letter arrived in the mail the next day.
She immediately amended her application to include retaliatory eviction. At conciliation she negotiated for an extra 3 months notice and repairs to be done. The real estate agent told her the reason for the termination is that the landlord has ‘reassessed their family situation’ and decided they need to move back in. Leonie doesn’t believe them:
"I’m pretty sure that is not true and that I just didn’t do what they wanted and made a fuss."
The impact of eviction on Leonie will be significant:
“I just don’t know if we are going to be able to stay in the local area. I’m going to inspections and there are twenty or thirty other families there. We can’t compete with other families with two incomes. So I’m really worried we’re going to have to move out of the area. This will have a big impact for us.
"I feel like we can’t move out of the area because my 17 year old is just going into year 12 now. In the past as a single mum I had to move my daughter and change school 8 times. When we moved here with my partner, it was supposed to bring stability for her – that was our promise to her.
"Also for my other two children there will be a big impact. They have special needs. One thing already I can say – I have NDIS forms filled in and ready to post. The area I’m in now has NDIS already in place, but in the other two areas just next door it has not rolled in. I don’t know what council area I’ll be in when we move so it is very confusing. I don’t know if I should send through the forms.
"As well, at the moment we can access a specific service in the area for disability. But when we move out we won’t be able to access these any longer. The loss of this disability service will be a huge loss for me and my family. One of my children has access to funding, because she has had her disability recognised we’re able to access funds and services. My other child doesn’t have funding and so we are completely reliant on the local community centre. We go there for her speech, occupational therapy and sensory issues. Those are three professionals who we have a relationship with. They know our family and we’ve been going there for 3 years. We’ll lose that. If we move to another council area we have to start all over again."
* Not her real name. Leonie has chosen not to be identified because she is worried about the security of her tenure in her new rented home if she publicly shares her story.