Tenant ignites controversy by revealing they pay no rent by overcharging roommates

An Australian tenant has been ruthlessly shamed after publicly outing themselves for having their four housemates pay the entirety of the rent while they lived for free.

For two years, the individual has been the sole leaseholder for a rental property in Sydney, Australia’s inner west, while subletting out four rooms to people who unwittingly covered the full cost of the house.

With the lease almost due for renewal, the head tenant this week began to panic after the subletters indicated they would like to be on the lease.

“Seeking advice. I’m currently the head tenant of a five-bedroom house in the inner west. I sublet to four others and have done so for two years. The lease is coming up for renewal and the other tenants all wish to sign on,” the post read.

The post ignited fierce debate on the internet.
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“The issue is, I have not been very transparent about the relative rental contributions and my rent is actually entirely covered by them.

“How do I go about navigating this situation?”

Advice was the last thing the tenant received, with their post receiving hundreds of comments from furious members of the community, some accusing them of “stealing” and being “fraudulent”.

“Yeah mate, that s–t is f–ked up …. You’ve pretty much been stealing from these people for two years,” one response read.

“From people you live with no less! Lying about total rent is grounds for an NCAT [New South Wales, Australia Civil and Administrative Tribunal] case. I hope they see this, and I hope they get back every cent,” another said.

“For those saying this isn’t illegal, lying to others for financial gain is fraud, which is illegal. The financial gain here is having their rent paid for them,” someone else said.

“At a low estimate you’ve ripped off at least $50 per person per week. You have stolen more than $20,000,” another wrote.

However, there were some who didn’t see anything wrong with what the tenant was doing.

“I literally do not understand the problem here – you rented a place and are subletting rooms, you can charge whatever you like,” one wrote.

“While it’s sh**ty morally, it’s not illegal. It’s basically the same as landlords using tenants to pay off their mortgage,” another said.

Leo Ross, the CEO of Tenants’ Union in Australia, confirmed subletting was not illegal so long as the head tenant had permission from the landlord.

Legality aside, he said renters were struggling with the morality of the issue.

“I think what people are struggling with is the kind of the culture or the morality around share housing, where people see it as sharing a resource and helping each other out,” he told ABC News.

“It’s kind of an affront to the share housing culture, but that’s very different to the legalities.”

And it’s an act Mr. Ross believes is more widespread than many think.

“I’ve certainly heard from many people whose head tenants were either collecting enough money to cover the entire cost of the house or were giving themselves a discount so they were paying significantly less, usually for the biggest room,” he said.

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