FRANKSTON has been named and shamed as “the worst suburb” in Victoria to rent in due to just six reviews on a name-and-shame website about rental properties.
Tabloid TV show A Current Affair aired a report about the Don’t Rent Me site founded by Sydney-based Anthony Ziebell last month stating “Frankston is the worst performing suburb – with St Kilda, Highett and Coburg also making the list”.
The Don’t Rent Me site allows renters to leave public feedback about their experiences in rental properties and common complaints range from unclean homes riddled with mould to the non-return of rental bonds at the end of a lease term.
Six negative reviews for five Frankston properties have been submitted to the site since its launch in 2012 with many suburbs nationwide garnering at least five negative reviews.
The site has about 1400 reviews lodged across Australia.
When questioned about the claim that Frankston is the Victoria’s “worst suburb” to rent in, Mr Ziebell told The Times he agreed this could unfairly stigmatise Frankston.
“A lot of the wording being used around ‘what is the worst suburb’ isn’t necessarily our wording,” he said.
“We’ve released information comparing suburbs saying ‘these suburbs have more unresolved negative reviews than others’ – that’s what we’ve said.
“Different media publications may interpret that in different ways … but we’ve not actually said a suburb is a bad place to rent or is full of bad landlords or bad agents or anything like that.”
The report on A Current Affair followed several newspaper reports also condemning Frankston as “the worst suburb” to rent in based on reviews listed on the Don’t Rent Me site.
Mr Ziebell says it may mean people in a specific neighbourhood “are communicating with each other, are helping each other out and are spreading the message”.
Mr Ziebell believes people in Frankston and other suburbs with a greater number of negative reviews may “feel more liberated and feel like they’re allowed to have a say”.
“The tenants and the good landlords of these areas know what is right and they’re not willing to accept what they’ve been living with.”
The IT software developer said he was inspired to start the site when he suffered a bad experience while renting in Sydney.
“The agent tried to make a bond claim against me and as a small business owner at the time I didn’t have the time to go to the tribunal and defend it.”
Mr Ziebell decided to design the Don’t Rent Me site as a way to empower tenants but he said he hoped the site can ultimately “pair good tenants with good landlords”.
“It’s not just a name-and-shame website and what we’re trying to achieve is the resolution of complaints. The first step is exposing the issue but then we allow the tenants, agents and landlords involved to try to resolve the issues and if they do get resolved we update the website to display things have actually been resolved.”
In future he plans to offer a condition report service to tenants.
Agents pay building inspectors for an exit inspection at the end of a lease term and Mr Ziebell said it would “turn the tables” to enable tenants to have a certified inspection carried out when they leave rental premises at the end of a lease term.
“We’re trying to provide advocacy and try to improve the situation for everyone involved.”
See dontrentme.com for rental property reviews by tenants across Australia.