With more and more people being locked out of the housing market, renting is on the rise. For those who chose to rent rather than buy, renting does have some advantages.
Renting can often be cheaper than buying, allowing renters to live in areas they can’t afford to buy. For example, the current loan repayment on a three bedroom home in Penrith¹ is $570 per week², while the rent on such a home is $400, and that isn’t taking into account such costs as rates, maintenance and insurance.
Renting is more flexible for those who need or want to be able to move quickly. If you are transferred at work, for example, you don’t have to wait for your home to sell. The fact that renting doesn’t require a long term commitment is a positive aspect for people who like a constant change of pace.
However, for those of us who rent out of necessity, rather than by choice, renting does have many disadvantages. Therefore, without further ado, here is my personal top ten list of things I hate about renting, from ten to one:
Owning a pet has many health benefits, both physical and psychological. Pet ownership has been linked to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and a strengthened immune system, as well as increased empathy, higher self-esteem and a lower risk of depression, loneliness and anxiety.
However, as a pet owner, renting can be a hassle. Increasing numbers of landlords ban pets altogether, while those who are willing to allow pets generally have strict rules attached, such as outside pets only or no exotic pets allowed. This makes it difficult to find a home to rent if you have a pet spider for example, or a dog who needs to be inside during cold weather due to health problems.
Rental payments, while often lower, are essentially dead money. You are paying for the ‘service’ of having a roof over your head, but you really don’t get anything else out of it. You are, in effect, buying a home for someone else.
In contrast, every mortgage payment is an equity investment. Over time you own more and more of your home. If you live there long enough, and keep on top of your payments, you will eventually own your home outright, a dream that is beyond the reach of those who rent.
Every home needs the occasional repair. Whether it is a broken oven, a leaky toilet or a rusted gate, as a home owner, you are limited only by available funds as to when to get your repairs completed.
Renters, however, often have to learn to live with niggly annoyances such as squaky gates or doors that don’t stay closed because, many landlords take their sweet time with any non-urgent repairs, and you aren’t allowed to have it done yourself.
Nobody actively tries to damage their home. At least, as a homeowner, the only consequence of accidental damage is having to live with that unsightly carpet stain or scrape on the wall until you have the money to fix it.
As a renter, I live in fear of my kids causing accidental damage to the house we live in. A lot of landlords will use the flimsiest excuse to withhold your bond and, if the damage is bad enough (for example if you trip and fall, putting a hole in the wall), you may even be served an eviction notice.
This means that renters have to limit their lifestyle choices in fear of damaging their rental home in a way that would not bother them if they owned the home. For example, my daughter is an artist, but she needs to be very careful when she works lest she accidentally stain the floor (indoors) or concrete (outdoors). Were I a home owner, I would have a room set aside as her studio where she could just go crazy without worries of causing damage.
Occasionally I will read a magazine like Home Beautiful or Better Homes & Gardens and gaze longingly at the beautiful decorating ideas to make your home your own. As a renter, many of these tips and tricks are denied to me. I can’t paint the walls when I get sick of the colour. I can’t have that beautiful new carpet installed or switch from hardwood floors to tiles. I can’t include a feature wall. And I definitely can’t just up and landscape my yard.
For those who own their own home, the way a home is decorated says a lot about the people who live there, and also provides a space where the residents can relax and feel comfortable. For a renter, that comfort and outlet for self-expression is non-existent.
There are some things home owners take for granted. If they come across that ancient picture of Great Aunt Betty and want to put it on display, it takes little effort and less time to put a picture hook in the wall. If they feel that the price of tomatoes is too high, they might decide to buy a tomato plant for their garden.
Unlike home owners, renters need to seek their landlord’s permission for absolutely everything they do, even minor things like those mentioned above. Nothing can be done on the spur of the moment or just because you feel like it. A request must be presented in writing to the real estate agent, who will then forward your request to the landlord. The landlord will then decide whether to grant permission and contact the real estate with an answer. The real estate will then contact the tenant to inform them of the landlord’s decision.
Depending on how difficult the landlord is to contact, this process may take weeks, or even months, and often the answer coming back after all that time is a no. All that hassle over a simple picture hook means that many tenants simply don’t bother, opting to simply live with the status quo rather than go through the process of having things changed.
Utilities and Improvements
There are a lot of improvements home owners can make to their properties that can reduce their impact on the environment, with the added benefit of lowering the cost of their utility bills. Installations such as solar panels, water tanks and improved insulation are rarely available in rental properties, leading renters to have higher utility bills, as well as a greater environmental impact.
Everyone loves having a complete stranger wander through their home eyeing their possessions and judging their levels of cleanliness and tidiness, right? While home owners might need to endure this nightmare once or twice in their lifetimes, depending on how often they sell their home, inspections are something renters have to go through every three months.
On the plus side, this means our homes get a spring clean every three months for fear the real estate might think we aren’t caring for the property well enough. On the minus side, we have to give our homes a spring clean every three months for fear the real estate might think we aren’t caring for the property well enough.
Due to the increasing numbers of people who want to rent the decreasing number of available homes, landlords are getting more picky with who they rent to. There is nothing wrong with being discerning, of course. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of landlords are crossing the line between being discerning and outright discrimination.
Tenants with pets or children are finding it more and more difficult to find homes to rent, as are welfare recipients and workers below a certain income. Many tenants are afraid to be open about their political views, religion, sexuality, gender identity or marital status for fear their application will be denied or their current contract terminated.
Such actions are, of course, illegal. Unfortunately, it is relatively easy for a landlord to lie about their reasons for rejecting an application or refusing to renew a rental contract; especially given that many tenants are too afraid of being blacklisted to complain.
Barring extenuating circumstances, or an inability to make mortgage payments, many home owners will spend years, even decades, living in the same home. They make friends with their neighbours, their children attend the same school, they become regulars at their local milk bar. This is not the case with renters.
Most rental contracts last for a period of twelve months, with an increasing number of landlords opting for an initial six month contract. These contracts can be, and often are, renewed when they expire. However, they aren’t always.
Renters are rarely in the same home for more than a few years. In fact, according to Roy Morgan, only 1 in 10 Australian renters have lived in their home for more than a decade, as opposed to 68.4% of home owners. Additionally, 65.3% of people who have lived in their home for less than a year were renters.
Anyone who has ever moved house will tell you that is a huge, annoying and expensive undertaking. Unfortunately, it is one that renters have to endure on a regular basis. It isn’t just the hassle of the move that makes things stressful, though.
Unless they are lucky enough to find another home in the same area, renters also have the stress of uprooting their lives and saying goodbye to friends and neighbours. They have to, once again, learn to settle into a new neighbourhood and establish relationships with new neighbours. Their children have to, once again, settle into a new school and somehow insinuate themselves into already established cliques. Travel routes to and from work and school need to be re-learned; and all this in the knowledge that they will have to do it all again before too long.
As stressful as it can be to worry about a contract being renewed, renters also have the added fear that they may have to leave at any time. If their landlord decides to improve or sell the property, they only have to give the tenant three months notice that they will have to leave.
All of this adds up to the fact that tenants do not have the same level of security and stability, nor do they have the same support system, as their home owning peers. This, in my view, is the biggest disadvantage of them all.
¹ Penrith, NSW, Australia
² The median price for a three bedroom home in Penrith is $590,000. Assuming an initial deposit of $100,000 and a loan of $490,000, the average weekly principal & interest payment for a 30 year variable home loan at 3.78% would be $570.
I apologise for this weeks’s Top Ten Tuesday being posted on Wednesday. I was feeling rather under the weather yesterday, making it difficult to concentrate on typing and research.
Also, I conducted a poll on twitter about the order of my Top Ten lists. I didn’t get a lot of respondents, but of those who did, the majority seem to prefer ten to one, so I’ll be sticking with this format from now on.
So, loyal readers, do you rent? If so, do you agree with this list? And for those who don’t rent, what are some of the things you dislike about owning a home? Let me know in the comments below.
Categories: Top Tens