You can be blacklisted as a renter without even knowing it.
Being put on one of these tenancy databases could mean you’re blocked from renting for years.
These databases are run by private companies and accessed by landlords and agents who report so-called “bad tenants”.
Many renters are reluctant to share their story for fear of backlash or shame.
Here are some ways to avoid being blacklisted
What can I be blacklisted for?
In all states except the Northern Territory, there are tight rules about how a tenant can be blacklisted to stop malicious listings.
Generally, you can only be listed:
- at the end of a lease AND
- when you owe rent that’s more than the total of the bond OR
- as the result of a court or tribunal order
In Victoria, breaches of your rental agreement, such as malicious property damage or endangering neighbours’ safety, can get you blacklisted.
In Queensland, objectionable behaviour or repeated lease breaches may also get you blacklisted.
In the Northern Territory, there are moves to provide more protections for renters. But, until that happens, the system is unregulated and there are broad reasons for being blacklisted, including overdue rent or breaching the lease agreement.
If you’re in the NT, you may not even know you’ve been listed, there are few ways to appeal and no legal time limit on how long you’ll be on it.
NT Consumer Affairs says to avoid being blacklisted you should pay your rent on time and not damage the property.
How will I know I’ve been listed?
In all states except the NT, landlords and agents must tell you in writing before they blacklist you, allowing you time to appeal against the decision.
Even when you’re applying for a place, you must be told whether a database will be used and when a listing about you comes up.
How can I appeal against a listing?
You can appeal against a listing if it’s incorrect, out of date or unjust. However, depending on which state you are living in.
In most cases, listings of more than three years must be removed.
You could raise an objection with the agent or landlord or relevant appeals body, such as a court or tribunal.
Do I really need to pay to check my record?
Database companies usually charge a fee but tenant advocates say you shouldn’t bother with them unless you have a reasonable suspicion you’re on a list and know exactly which database you might be on.
“There’s no real urgency to contact the database operators,” said Mark O’Brien, chief executive of the Tenants Union of Victoria.
“The system’s not supposed to work that the tenant does the checking, the system is supposed to work that estate agents tell you if you’re listed.”
In New South Wales, you’re entitled to obtain a listing from the person who listed you free of charge.