Being placed on a tenancy blacklist can make it extremely hard to find a future rental lease, possibly for years to come, so it pays to make sure you understand what it is and how to avoid it.
As many as one in four, or 25% of Australians rent, according to a report by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, while the 2016 Census showed that 30.9 per cent of Australian were renting – a number that has been increasing year-on-year. What’s more, renters span all types of household income ranges, with 30 percent of renters having a household income in excess of $100,000.
Given how popular renting is in Australia, it’s important that tenants are well informed about their rights and obligations. Yet, data collected by consumer advocacy group Choice found that many renters are not as well informed as they should be.
In some cases, tenants can wind up on a “tenancy blacklist” without knowing it. This can result in being locked out of the private rental market for years.
What is a tenancy blacklist?
Previously known as tenancy databases, tenancy blacklists are privately owned companies that hold information about tenants’ past residential or commercial property rental history.
What information do blacklists reveal?
When you apply for a rental property, in addition to checking references you have provided, many real estate agents or landlords will access the main tenancy blacklists to make sure that you are who you say you are, are reliable, and are likely to take good care of their property. These lists can also be used to verify your identity or check to see if you have a police record.
Why do tenants get blacklisted?
There are strict rules, which vary by state, to stop tenants being blacklisted maliciously or without good cause. While tenancy blacklisting is actually quite rare, it can lead to dire outcomes, as it can make it all but impossible to secure a rental.
Generally, you can only be blacklisted at the end of a lease and if you owe more money in rental arrears and/or property damage than the total amount of your bond. You may also be blacklisted as the result of a property related court or tribunal order.
Other things that can lead to tenants being blacklisted include malicious property damage, endangering neighbours’ safety, objectionable behaviour or repeated lease breaking.
How to find out if you’ve been blacklisted
If you’re concerned that you may have been put on a tenancy database, the best thing you can do is to contact the main Australian databases, which are TICA, Equifax’s National Tenancy Database and Trading Reference Australia (TRA), and request that they check for information on your name. This will usually cost you a fee.
Alternatively, if a property manager finds your name on a list, they should let you know within seven days and give you information about who listed you and why. Then the agent who originally listed you must provide you with a copy of your information for free within 14 days of you requesting it.
What to do if you have been blacklisted
If you repay your debts to the landlord a listing should be removed within three months. In most cases, listings of more than three years must also be removed.
You can appeal against a listing if it’s incorrect, out of date or unjust. If you feel this is the case the best thing would be to speak with the landlord and/or property manager as your first course of action. If this doesn’t work, you can appeal to your relevant state tribunal. In NSW, this is the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)
Keep your rental record clean
Obviously, the best way to avoid being blacklisted is to be aware of your obligations as a tenant and stick to them. Pay your rent on time or catch up on arrears as quickly as possible – making prior arrangements with your agent or landlord if you’re having difficulty is always the best option. Leave the property in good shape when you leave and never break rental contracts if you can possibly avoid it.
If you have any rental questions contact our experienced team of property managers today.