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Sabine's story

The landlord told me he was selling, he lied. If he had been honest then I would have had options. Being put in this situation dictates your life, you feel completely out of control. It’s not a good feeling.

Entry way of a house. Brown front door, with a hat stand with a hat on it to the left. To the right, a table with flowers in a vase.

Sabine is a single mum from Germany, living with her two kids on the South Coast. In 2020, Sabine moved into a house for $580 per week. Sabine got along well with her landlord, and he regularly reassured her that she could stay in her home long-term. 

In October of 2022, Sabine received a termination notice out of nowhere, with the landlord saying that his wife wanted to sell the house and buy a unit closer to the grandchildren in Sydney. 

I struggled to find anything to rent in the area, in particular in the lead up to Christmas, when the property market is the tightest on the South Coast. I have no relatives in Australia I could move in with. 

After 3 months and countless unsuccessful applications for a rental I had given up hope of finding anything to rent and was mentally preparing myself to live in a tent. 

As months wore on and Sabine’s termination date was drawing closer, she ended up applying for a property late one night as soon as it was advertised as ‘coming soon’ on the real estate website – before a description or photographs were even uploaded, let alone having been to an inspection. She was approved, at the last minute, and moved in for $620 per week.

The day after Sabine had moved out, her previous rental was advertised online as for lease for $800/week – a $220 per week increase. 

The landlord told me he was selling, he lied. If he had been honest that he wanted to put the rent up that much then I would have had options. I could have subleased some rooms and been able to stay.

This habit of evicting tenants and rent hiking is pure greed at its finest. There are many, many landlords doing this in the Kiama Municipality. Many also short-term let the house on AirBnB through Christmas and Easter, and then bring in a tenant for 6 months only to kick them out again ahead of Christmas and the AirBnB high season.

Sabine is concerned that her experience isn’t unique, and won’t necessarily be a problem that goes away anytime soon.

Even with the legislation changing around no grounds eviction, what happened to me isn’t a thing of the past. Landlords can lie to get around the rules, and for some it is a pattern. They can say they’ll sell the house, and then not do it. If they don’t make the rules enforceable or controllable then the law is not worth the paper it’s written on. It’s nothing, really. 

Being put in this situation dictates your life, you feel completely out of control of your own life. It’s not a good feeling. I’m able to compare the rental situation here to Germany where I come from. There, there is a lot of social housing and rents are low. It’s ridiculous to compare that to here. None of my friends or family in Germany believe me about what happens here, they can’t imagine it. The Australian rental market is unimaginable to them.