It should come as no surprise that Canberra’s property market is more competitive than ever.
With one-third of Canberrans renting their homes, many tenants are left to consider private rental agreements rather than those attached to an agency.
But what can happen if you go it alone and things go wrong? First-time renter Isabelle Smith* shares her horror experience in the hope that others might avoid one of their own.
Isabelle moved to Canberra in early 2023 for work. It was her first time living away from her childhood home in regional NSW.
“I quickly realised finding a place to rent in Canberra was going to be expensive and that competition was tough,” she says.
“I eventually found a privately leased sharehouse and even though it was a long commute to work, I took it.
“I had no experience, so it was tricky to know what to watch out for or where I could get help when things started to go wrong.”
Things quickly devolved from unprofessional nuisance to serious safety issue for the young housemates. Isabelle’s new landlords had no consideration for her or her housemates’ comfort or privacy.
“Our landlords would say different things to different housemates and had really poor communication. I think a lot of messages were lost in translation,” Isabelle says.
“I received texts late in the evening from multiple numbers, we had tradesmen coming unannounced for non-urgent repairs and potential tenants inspecting the house without any notice.
“I never knew who was going to come through the front door.”
Isabelle decided to leave the sharehouse before her lease was up. She now lives in her own apartment, which is managed by an existing agency with good reviews.
“Renting through an agency has definitely been more structured and professional,” she says.
“I was kept in the loop and advised about the renting process the whole time, rather than being expected to know everything.
“I don’t think I’ll get my bond back or any sort of reference from my previous landlords, but I’m glad to feel more secure now.”
It’s a sticky situation, and not just for renters.
This privately leased South Coast home was left riddled with damage, rubbish and animal faeces following neglect by nightmare tenants who, according to landlords, inspired a street party to celebrate their exit:
McIntyre Property’s head of property management, Amanda Gordon, says a tight market with aggressive competitors can lead to issues on both sides of the door key.
“There are some serious pitfalls when it comes to navigating the rental market without the help of a reliable agent,” Amanda says.
“When there are dozens of tenants competing for one property, the process becomes overwhelming for landlords as well.
“People who have been turned away by agents for previous bad behaviour target private landlords almost exclusively. These tenants promise the world but can cause all sorts of trouble once they’re in.”
If they want to evict a painful tenant, private landlords will need to jump through a number of legislative hoops.
“ACT legislation says you have to issue a certain number of warnings before evicting a tenant for failure to pay rent,” Amanda says.
“Many private landlords don’t realise this. By the time they come to us for help, they’re already weeks or even months out of pocket.
“An agent can verify references and rental capacity to turn undesirable tenants away before they ever step foot on the property.”
McIntyre Property specialises in residential property. Trained in the Residential Tenancies Act specifically for the ACT, the team of agents is across legislation for both tenants and landlords in Canberra.
“The bottom line is this: it is worth your time to engage an agency if you’re looking to place yourself in the rental market in any capacity,” Amanda says.
“A reputable agency saves you time and money, minimises risk, and most importantly, takes a significant amount of stress off your shoulders.”
*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.
If you have an interest in the rental market as a tenant or landlord, consider navigating its challenges with the help of McIntyre Property.