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Australia’s NICEST landlord? Rent reduced as cost of living spirals despite interest rates spike

A couple who lowered the rent on a property they own has been getting a lot of credit for their kindness, despite their own mortgage payments rising in recent weeks.

Catherine Phillips posted to Facebook group The Kindness Pandemic that she and her husband bought a rental home last year.

The Melbourne-based couple’s rental home is in regional Victoria, and although Mrs Phillips has not met the tenant, she knows she is a single mother with three children.

The property has solar panels but only gas heating which prompted Mrs Phillips to do something to help rising gas bills.

Catherine Phillips (pictured) gets big credit for lowering rent from her rental home who was struggling financially

Catherine Phillips (pictured) gets big credit for lowering rent from her rental home who was struggling financially

She decided to ‘introduce a split system as an alternative to the rising prices of gas-fired heating, so that it can be more beneficial for the tenant’.

But when she called her real estate agent to tell them about her plan, they said the tenant was struggling with living costs and may need to move.

“So we lowered the rent for the next six months,” said Ms. Phillips, a support worker.

“I’m sure not many people are cutting rents while interest rates are rising, but it can be a huge help to someone struggling to keep a roof over their family.”

Her post has been read tens of thousands of times and has had over a thousand comments praising her and her husband’s generosity.

‘So nice to see that there are good landlords with rental properties. The struggle for far too many families is real,” one wrote.

“Such a powerful story,” wrote another. ‘It’s nice when tenants are responsible, but I’ve noticed that generosity lasts!’

But some people reported having bad experiences with their own landlord.

‘I appreciate you doing this for her!! Mine just raised the rent from $100 AND said repairs on appliances etc below $200 are now my responsibility,” one wrote.

Another wrote: ‘What a kind and selfless person. I’ve rented my entire life, moved 26 times, and had only one landlord as nice as you.”

Catherine Phillips posted to Facebook group The Kindness Pandemic (pictured) about how she cut rent for a tenant

Catherine Phillips posted to Facebook group The Kindness Pandemic (pictured) about how she cut rent for a tenant

With the rising costs of groceries, gas and electricity, some people in rental housing (pictured) are finding it difficult to pay their rent

With the rising costs of groceries, gas and electricity, some people in rental housing (pictured) are finding it difficult to pay their rent

There were also comments showing that some other landlords are just as conscientious as Ms. Phillips.

One woman wrote: ‘We also keep our rent low because she takes care of the house.

‘We have just put in better air conditioning and are looking at better heating for next year. I’m even thinking about solar panels. Every little bit helps.

“We wouldn’t be landlords without tenants.”

Another said: ‘I’ve rented at market prices in the past to help people. It’s not just about money, is it – it’s about being a decent person.”

House rents in Australia’s capitals have risen over the past year

SYDNEY: Up 21.3 percent to $814.30 per week

MELBOURNE: Up 9.5 percent to $558.80 a week

BRISBANE: Up to 21.8 percent up to $607.60 per week

PERTH: Increase from 12.4 percent to $582.20 per week

ADELAIDE: 19.1 percent up to $524.20 per week

CANBERRA: Up to 8.3 percent up to $771.40 per week

DARWIN: Up to 7.9 percent up to $663.60 per week

HOBART: 10.4 percent up to $533.40 per week

CAPITAL AVERAGE: 16.3 percent up to $657 a week

Source: SQM Survey median weekly home rent data showing annual increases for the year to week ending June 4, 2022

Ms. Phillips said that although she and her husband are not wealthy, they felt they should do what they could to help their tenant during difficult economic times.

She also used her post to encourage others to do what they can to help.

“If you can help someone, please do,” she said.

“We’re not rich, we live pack to pack and we always have, but I’m grateful we could do something to help.”

She said tenants who are going through hard times should “let your real estate agent and landlords know if you’re having a hard time, I found out by accident, otherwise I wouldn’t have known until the tenant canceled.”

The national vacancy rate for rental homes is only 1.1 percent of all homes.  The vacancy rate in the regions is less than 1 percent.  Pictured is a house for rent in Melbourne

The national vacancy rate for rental homes is only 1.1 percent of all homes. The vacancy rate in the regions is less than 1 percent. Pictured is a house for rent in Melbourne

According to SQM Research, average house rents in state and territory capitals of Australia have increased 16.3 percent over the past year to $657 per week.

About 41 percent of all renters said it affected their ability to save, including for a down payment to buy a home.

The national vacancy rate for rental homes is only 1.1 percent of all homes. The vacancy rate in the regions is less than 1 percent.

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