Real Estates

Tenant sparks controversy by revealing they’re not paying rent by overcharging roommates

An Australian tenant has been mercilessly shamed after they went public because their four housemates were paying full rent while they were living for free.

For two years, the individual has been the sole tenant of a rental property in Sydney, Australia’s inner west, while letting out four rooms to people who unknowingly covered the full cost of the house.

With the lease almost up for renewal, the main tenant began panicking this week after signatures indicated they would like to be leased.

“I’m looking for advice.” I am currently the main tenant of a five bedroom house in the inner west. I have rented four others for two years. The lease is up for renewal and all other tenants want to apply,” the post said.

The announcement sparked a heated debate on the Internet.
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“The problem is that I haven’t been very transparent about the relative rent contributions and my rent is actually fully covered by them.”

“How do I manage this situation?”

The advice was the last thing the tenant got, as their post received hundreds of comments from furious community members, some of whom accused them of “stealing” and being “swindled”.

“Yeah mate that’s s—t f*ck…. You pretty much stole from these people for two years,” read one response.

“From the people you live with no less!” Lying about the total rent is grounds for NCAT [New South Wales, Australia Civil and Administrative Tribunal] the case. I hope they see this, and I hope they get every cent,” said another.

“For those who say this is not illegal, lying to others for financial gain is fraud, which is illegal.” “The financial gain here is that they get paid rent,” said someone else.

“At a rough estimate, you stole at least $50 per person per week.” You stole over $20,000,” wrote another.

However, there were also those who saw nothing wrong with what the tenant was doing.

“I literally don’t understand the problem here – you rent an apartment and rent out rooms, you can charge whatever you want,” wrote one.

“Even though it’s s**t moral, it’s not illegal.” It’s basically the same as landlords using tenants to pay off their mortgage,” said another.

Leo Ross, chief executive of the Tenants’ Union of Australia, confirmed subletting was not illegal as long as the main tenant had the landlord’s permission.

Legalities aside, he said renters struggle with the morality of the issue.

“I think what people are struggling with is the kind of culture or morality around co-housing, where people see it as sharing resources and helping each other,” he told ABC News.

“It’s kind of an affront to the cohousing culture, but that’s very different from being legal.”

And it’s an act that Mr. Ross believes is more widespread than many think.

“I’ve certainly heard from a lot of people whose main tenants were either raising enough money to cover the entire cost of the house or they were giving themselves a discount so they were paying significantly less, usually for the largest room,” he said.

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