A young woman who took her landlord to tenancy court after her rent was increased by an “outrageous” $1,400 a month has lost her case.
Writer and podcaster Chantelle Schmidt quickly became the face of Sydney’s rental crisis after posting about her ordeal on TikTok earlier this year.
Three months ago, Ms. Schmidt revealed that the rent for her property in Redfern, in the inner-south part of the city, had been increased from $1,900 to $2,600 every two weeks.
Her landlord claimed the new price, which had risen by 37 percent, would “bring the rent in line with what the current market is achieving.”
Ms Schmidt decided to take her landlord to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) and revealed on Sunday that most of her claims had been rejected.
She read the results on her iPhone while wearing an “Eat the Rich” t-shirt in a TikTok video after thousands of Australians were invested in her mission.
“Three months later, this is the result of challenging that rent increase,” she said, before reading the full results to her viewers.
The tribunal ultimately ruled that the rent could not exceed $2,500 a fortnight, just $100 less than what her landlord had asked three months ago.
Chantelle Schmidt, a writer and podcaster, quickly became the face of Sydney’s rental crisis after posting about her ordeal on TikTok earlier this year
“It has been ordered that from February 19, 2022 to February 18, 2023, the rent cannot exceed $875 per week,” Ms. Schmidt read from her phone.
“It is ordered that from April 16, 2023, to April 15, 2024, the rent cannot exceed $1,250 per week.”
It also ordered that Ms. Schmidt and her roommate get a $75 a week rent reduction backdated to February 2022, meaning the roommates get $3,900 back in cash or rent credit.
The discount was due to several problems with the apartment, namely a crack in the wall and a faulty floorboard in the living room. The tenants also argued that the property had a roach problem and mold.
The Sydneysiders asked for cash claims compensation and asked the landlord to carry out various repair work.
The tribunal responded to these requests for compensation by saying it was a ‘difficult one for the tenants’.
“To pass on this count, it would have to be determined that mold was the fault of the landlord and was due to a breach of the lease,” he said.
It said there had been years of unseasonably wet weather that had favored mold growth in properties across Sydney.
“I have no doubt that this property is sensitive to damp conditions, but I could not be satisfied that it would be sufficiently placed at the feet of the landlord and that the lifestyle of the tenants was not an important factor,” he said.
In response to the cockroach problem, the tribunal stated: ‘Every home in Australia has cockroaches’.
“The prospective tenants have owned the property for two years and it is difficult to see why the landlord would be at fault,” the ruling said.
Three months ago, Ms. Schmidt revealed that the rent for her property in Redfern, in the inner-south of the city, had been increased from $1,900 to $2,600 every two weeks
Ms. Schmidt promptly ended the video after reading the results, noting only that the results were “interesting.”
She has kept her followers updated throughout her journey to the tribunal and has been paying the increased rent for the past three months.
TikTok users flooded her comments with messages of sympathy and support.
‘There is no property worth 1250 a week in rent, this market is ridiculous!’ said one.
‘Disappointed for you. The tribunal must make it fair for everyone. It appears that this outcome was skewed on the landlord/agent side,” wrote a second.
A third shared, “We are all so proud of you for fighting this, I am really sorry for the outcome. I hope you do something nice with that refund, you deserve it.’
It comes as another blow to renters struggling in impossible rental markets, with thousands still struggling to get a home amid record low vacancy rates.
It comes as another blow to renters battling impossible rental markets, with thousands still struggling to get a home amid record low vacancy rates (pictured, Sydneysiders line up to buy a ‘small’ studio for rent to inspect)
The Association of Housing Associations predicted that rental costs, which already rose last year by 17.6 percent for units and 14.6 percent in capital cities, could go even higher as supply fails to keep up with demand.
Nationally, housing vacancy is 1.1 percent, the same rate as Melbourne and Hobart, while it’s 1.3 percent in Sydney and a crushing 0.5 percent in Adelaide.
Rents have risen across Australia as low housing supply and the spillover effects of 11 consecutive mortgage rate hikes coincide with the reopening of borders and the return of waves of foreign workers and students.
Between March 2022 and March 2023, average unit rent in Sydney increased by 24 percent, equivalent to an additional $120 per week, according to the Domain Rent Report.
Melbourne rose by nearly the same amount, rising 23.1 percent, while rents in Brisbane rose 16.3 percent.
Rents in Adelaide and Perth rose by 13.5 percent and 12.5 percent respectively, and those in Darwin and Hobart by about 6 percent each.
Due to the arrival of migrants, students and tourists, the vacancy rate may increase.