Kristina Gram: Shameful response from a property manager after a single mum-of-four tried to negotiate a Sydney rent increase – and it’s perfectly legal

A single mother has been slapped with a massive rental increase after trying to negotiate when her landlord upped the price of her home.  

Mother-of-four Kristina Gram, from Sydney’s eastern suburbs, got a notice from her landlord that her rent would be increasing from $800-a-week to $1100.

When the 45-year-old firefighter offered instead to pay $975, the agent came back asking for $1200-a-week.

There are currently no laws in New South Wales that forbid this practice. 

Sydney mother of four Kristina Gram (pictured) has been hit with a massive rent increase from $800 per week to $1200

‘It just seems really unfair, and it seems ludicrous they can go one step further and say let’s make it even worse,’ Ms Gram told The Sydney Morning Herald.

She has tried to cut back on living expenses amid the nation’s cost of living crisis and her brother has moved into her home to help out with the spiralling rental costs.

Ms Gram is now considering moving to a three-bedroom rental property and living in the garage.

She called for a limit on excessive rent rises, which Australians are increasingly facing in a historically tight rental market. 

‘Even if they can limit it by 25 per cent,’ she said. 

‘As a firey, we’ve just secured last year’s pay increase, which is only 4.5 per cent, which is not in line with inflation.’

Ms Gram has called for a limit on excessive rent rises, which have increased amid the nation's housing crisis

Ms Gram has called for a limit on excessive rent rises, which have increased amid the nation’s housing crisis 

The national rental vacancy rate this month hit a new record low, with new data showing rental conditions worsening in Sydney and Melbourne.

Australia’s vacancy rates fell to 1.02 per cent over the month, according to the latest PropTrack Market Insight Report.

That’s a new record from the 1.10 per cent recorded in September, and well below 3 per cent, which is seen as a healthy vacancy rate.

Experts have warned rising rents will increase the rate of homelessness across the country. 

While there is a law that a landlords can only increase a tenant’s rent once every 12 months, there is no limit on the amount of rent increase.  

The Minns government has ruled out a rental cap.

‘We believe that would have an impact on supply, and we need to get supply going,’ Mr Minns said earlier this year.

‘The vast majority of the rental market and new supply in the NSW marketplace has got to be provided by the private sector.’  

While there is a law that a landlord can only increase a tenant’s rent once every 12 months, there is no limit on the amount of rent increase (stock image pictured) 

Tenants have the option to fight an excessive rental increases in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. 

But NSW Tenants’ Union chief executive Leo Patterson Ross said not many tenants take this option due to the drawn out process involved. 

Mr Patterson Ross said legislating against excessive rent increases could be one part of broader plans to increase supply to address the dire shortage of available housing in the state. 

In the ACT, rentals are capped at the rate of inflation plus 10 per cent.  

Mr Patterson Ross said any long-tern solutions involving supply to would not help renters like Ms Gram in her situation today.

He said there needs to be better regulation around housing and for it to be considered as an essential service, not just an investment for buyers.  

NSW rental commissioner Trina Jones said there were rules in place to prevent excessive rent increases through the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

‘In the case of a 50 per rent increase, that’s in excess of the market standard. I would strongly encourage renters to challenge this at the tribunal,’ she said. 

Ms Jones encouraged tenants to check if a rent increase was excessive by using the Tenants Union rent tracker tool.