An Aussie renter has sparked debate online after calling out landlords who complain about their mortgage repayments increasing.
Izabella Antoniou responded to a video on TikTok, in which an American landlord complained that she had hiked her tenants’ rent, but was still $11 out of pocket.
“When the tenants complain about an $100 [sic] rent raise but my mortgage went up $111 so I’m actually making less, not more, money,” the landlord said in the video.
Antoniou, who is a Greens candidate for Summer Hill in NSW, said landlords needed to reassess their risk profile.
“You have entered into an investment willingly. You having an investment property is a luxury. The housing your tenants require is a human right,” she said in the TikTok.
“You cannot punish people trying to live housed [sic] for your poor financial decisions or lack of foresight or lack of looking into your own risk tolerance when it comes to investments.”
Antoniou said she wanted to expose the lack of power renters had in the current housing system.
“What I’m hearing is that people are terrified they’re going to be kicked out of their home at any minute – either directly evicted or pushed out by unchecked rent hikes,” Antoniou told Yahoo Finance.
“They’re living in places that aren’t up to scratch because they know they have no power to push back, and that ‘making noise’ could lead to them being evicted without cause, in favour of someone who will accept the outrageous price, toxic mould and the cracks in the ceiling, out of desperation.”
TikTok sparks debate
But Aussies were divided in the comments, with some agreeing with Antoniou’s comments, and others saying landlords had every right to pass on their increased costs.
“Rental housing is not a human right, and it becomes a choice between me losing the roof over my family or the tenant… sorry,” one person said.
“As a tenant I don’t side with landlords but … rental properties aren't charities, they can legally raise rent. Don't like [it] move then,” another commented.
“How lucky is she, she [pays] $11 for a mortgage yet most of us can’t afford our own home and live in fear of not having a lease!” one user said.
“They’re ending up with a paid property worth hundreds of thousands as an asset. It’s a short-term loss for a long-term gain for them,” another person wrote.
What can renters do?
Tenants' Union of NSW policy and advocacy manager Jemima Mowbray said the debate showed Australians had lost sight of what houses were.
“For a renter, it is their home, and when they are talking about struggling to make rent, they are talking about struggling to keep a roof over their head,” Mowbray told Yahoo Finance.
“It becomes quite emotional for them when they see landlords talking about properties as an investment and losing out of an investment.”
In most states and territories, rent is set by the market and not the costs incurred by the landlord.
“When landlords get an additional cost, sometimes they will test the market and see if they can get a little bit more,” Mowbray said.
“At the moment, we have such tight supply that renters feel they need to pay the additional rent, so we are seeing the market rents being forced up.”
Mowbray encouraged tenants facing rent increases to reach out to their landlord or real estate agent to negotiate, and to look at the market price of similar properties in the area. Pointing to a good rental history can also be helpful.
“It’s useful to try and humanise the conversation and to give them a sense of your circumstances and also the history of your tenancy,” she said.