A YOUNG renter has turned her experiences of being screwed by stingy landlords into an entertaining card game highlighting WA’s unfair tenancy laws.
Megan Neal (24) has been criticised by landlords for leaving breakfast crumbs on the bench in an otherwise spotless house or owning too many things, while she was made sick because one owner wouldn’t fix a mouldy house.
But like many other renters she was scared to speak up in case she was evicted or had her rent increased.
After attending a conference run by Tenancy WA last year and discovering she wasn’t alone, Ms Neal decided she wanted to help others understand what it was like at the pointy end of the renting game.
“It’s really hard to share that experience if you haven’t lived it,” Ms Neal said.
In Rent: The Card Game, players receive “keys” to rent a house and pay the bills, which the inventor said was to show that having a home was more than just having cash to the rent and included good health and mental wellbeing.
After choosing a home with a range of options such as insulation or electric appliances, players have to negotiate their way through unfair requests from the landlord and endless bills.
Fall behind on the rent and you’re suddenly accruing crisis points; three of those and you’re on the street – if the landlord hasn’t summarily kicked you out for no reason. It’s surprisingly easy.
Ms Neal’s game is being showcased as part of Homelessness Week by the Making Renting Fair Alliance.
The alliance is a collaboration between community organisations and renters calling for an overhaul of WA’s tenancy laws.
Alliance co-ordinator Rachel Pemberton, a Fremantle councillor, said they’re calling for changes such as more long-term leases, banning unfair evictions and giving renters the right to make minor alterations like putting in a picture hook, a towel rail or even a vegie patch.
Cr Pemberton said they’d tagged the Make Renting Fair campaign to Homelessness Week to highlight how the tenancy laws could actually be contributing to the problem.
Ms Neal and fellow Tenancy Action Group WA campaign co-ordinator Trish Owen will be holding games of Rent at The Nook at the WA State Library on Francis Street on Wednesday August 7 from 11.30am-1.30pm. With other TAGWA members they’ll be sharing personal insights (and tips) about the rental market. For a free game go to rent_the_card_game.eventbrite.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org
by STEVE GRANT