The Blacklist Sucks. Here’s How To Avoid It.

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The Blacklist Sucks. Here’s How To Avoid It.

No doubt you’ve heard about the tenant blacklist. But do you know how it works? What you have to do to be put on it? If not then you need to read this.

Last week we gave some advice on how to avoid bad tenants, this week we're going to give some advice on how you can avoid being a bad tenant, and importantly how you can avoid ending up blacklisted.

Because being blacklisted really sucks. 

Why Being Blacklisted Sucks

Appearing in one of these databases is a giant red flag to any agent or landlord assessing your application. No matter how good your other references are, or how you presented yourself at the inspection, your application will get sent to the bottom of the pile.

What does that mean? Effectively you'll be locked out of properties with landlords that care about the upkeep of the house, neighbourhood and you.

So the only places you'll be able to rent are those where the landlord doesn't care about the property, and is unlikely to co-operate with your needs as a tenant. I'll let you imagine what kind of houses belong to those types of landlords.

How The Blacklist Works

Let's get this out of the way: you can't be added to a residential tenancy database without good reason.

An agent or landlord cannot add you to one of these database unless the following is true:

  1. a residential tenancy agreement has ended; AND
  2. the tenant breached the agreement; AND
  3. where the breach results in the person owing the landlord an amount that is more than the bond; OR the Tribunal has made an order terminating the residential tenancy agreement; OR the Tribunal has not made an order under section 89A(4)(d) prohibiting the listing.

The information that is added to the database must also be only related to the breach, be accurate, and unambiguous.

South Australia also provides protections for those who are victims of domestic violence. The South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) can provide an order prohibiting the listing of victims of domestic abuse.

This can occur in the event that they did not cause the breach, or that the breach was the result of an act of domestic abuse against the victim.

So you don't have to fear that an agent or landlord will blacklist you for a disagreement, or for you asserting your rights as a tenant. That said it can be easier than you think to tick off those requirements, especially when you're in share housing.

How To Avoid Slipping On To The Blacklist

When you're sharing a lease with friends or strangers you are all collectively responsible for upholding the conditions of your tenancy. Usually this isn't a problem, most people respect the places they live, but occasionally things go south.

As co-tenants you're all collectively responsible, which means that when one person breaches the lease you all do. 

So this means you might already be ticking off requirement No. 2 of the blacklist. 

If this is the case you need to ensure you're documenting everything and keeping an open line of communication with the agent or landlord. 

If they're aware of who is responsible for what and know you to be a responsible tenant, they'll struggle to include you as a blacklisted tenant. 

You will also need to repay or contribute to the payment of the debt owed to the landlord.

How Do I Know If I Have Been Blacklisted?

In South Australia there are certain legal requirements that landlords and agents need to fulfill before they can blacklist you. Otherwise they are liable to pay a maximum penalty of $5000 for any breach of those requirements.

Those requirements are: 

  • They have given you, or taken reasonable steps to give you, a copy of the information.
  • They must also provide 14 days for you you to review, and make submissions regarding the information

However should the landlord or agent be unable to locate you after making reasonable enquiries then the landlord or agent will not be in breach of those requirements. 

Also if you, in writing, request a copy of the information they must also provide that to you within 14 days.

You must also be advised if a landlord or agent has encountered you on a database, and which databases they have used.

How Long Am I Blacklisted For?

As a general rule, you cannot be blacklisted for a period of more than 3 years. 

The Takeaways

Being blacklisted is a common fear among tenants, it can ruin your ability to secure a good property and it can take a long time for the listing to disappear. So here is what you need to remember:

  1. You can only be listed if you've met three specific requirements
  2. You must be told if you're being listed, and given the opportunity to respond
  3. If an agent or landlord has encountered your name on a database they must tell you. 

Being listed is rare, but it can happen. Ensuring you fulfill the conditions of your tenancy is the best way to prevent blacklisting from happening. If you're share housing, make sure you have an individual lease or you're diligent in making sure everyone is taking care of the property and paying rent on time.

Hopefully this helps you stay off the blacklist and in good, decent properties for as long as you're renting. If you've got questions about blacklisting, finding good rental properties or finding good tenants get in contact with us today.

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