Rolling with the renters

A YOUNG renter has turned her experiences of being screwed by stingy landlords into a game highlighting WA’s unfair tenancy laws.

Megan Neal (24) has been criticised by landlords for breakfast crumbs in an otherwise spotless house or owning too many things, while she’s been sick from mould.

But like most renters she was scared to speak up in case she was evicted or got a rent increase.

At a conference run by Tenancy WA last year, Ms Neal discovered she wasn’t alone and decided she wanted to help others understand what it was like at the pointy end of renting.

“It’s really hard to share that experience if you haven’t lived it,” Ms Neal said.

• Megan Neal turned her renting horrors into an entertaining card game. Photo by Steve Grant

Keys

In Rent: The Card Game, players receive “keys” to  rent a house and pay bills, which the inventor said was to show that having a home was more than just paying 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 deal with unfair requests from the landlord and endless bills. Fall behind and you accrue crisis points – three and you’re out if the landlord hasn’t already kicked you out without reason. It’s surprisingly easy.

Ms Neal’s game is being showcased during Homelessness Week by the Make Renting Fair Alliance, a collaboration of community organisations and renters calling for an overhaul of WA’s tenancy laws. Alliance co-ordinator Rachel Pemberton, a Fremantle councillor, said they want longer leases, unfair evictions banned and the right to make minor alterations like putting in a picture hook or a towel rail.

Cr Pemberton said WA’s tough tenancy laws could actually be contributing to the homelessness problem.

Ms Neal and fellow Tenants Action Group WA campaign co-ordinator Trish Owen will be holding games of Rent at The Nook at the State Library of WA on Francis Street on Wednesday August 7 from 11.30am to 1.30pm.  To book go to rent_the_card_game.eventbrite.com.au

by STEVE GRANT

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