“I have spent 18 out of 20 years of my life in rentals”: a young renter’s dispair

IL* is a talented artist and renter from Victoria. In this blog post, she shares her incredible paintings that tell the story of growing up in poorly built rental homes, without adequate cooling, heating or insulation. IL has changed her name because she is worried about backlash from landlords or real estate agents.

It’s rather difficult living in a house, but not being able to make it a home. I have spent 18 out of 20 years of my life in rental properties, having moved nine times and living in eight different houses.

IL’s painting showing the bathroom of her family’s rental home.

The property you reside in will fall apart, and the emails and emails, calls and calls, texts and texts just
result in months of continued disrepair.
This disrepair is commonly seen in drafts, cracks in foundations or walls, warped and uneven floorboards, inadequate heating, inadequate cooling, broken appliances, and mould. I don’t believe there is a renter that has been fortunate enough to never encounter any of these problems within a

IL’s painting showing a large crack in the ceiling of her family’s rental home.

Wherever one lives, the place is unstable, lest one can afford somewhere over $600 per week; something unattainable for ordinary people.

What does this say for what those below the middle class are expected to endure? How are those of
us excluded from the property market expected to live comfortably and with dignity? In the age of
climate change, how are we expected to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer?

IL’s painting showing a large crack in a wall of her family’s rental home.

I have been quite fortunate in my life. During the drought in 2008, I had the comfort of staying inside
with cold water in a spa bath in a house that my parents owned for a short while. The next house I had
moved to shortly after had one single cooling unit in one singular room.

Those who own where they live are able to give themselves the comfort they need during difficult weather because they have the resources to act on what they need. Renters don’t. Renters are at the mercy of whoever owns where they reside. They can act as much or as little as they like. They are not held to account as they should be.

Renters are not second-class citizens inherently, but they are forced into being one.”

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