Accommodation is a major worry for international students worldwide, especially in Sydney, a highly sought-after educational destination. Recent reports and surveys shed light on the exploitation faced by international students in this vibrant city.
According to a new report from UNSW (University of New South Wales), a significant number of international students studying in Sydney struggle to find satisfactory, secure, and affordable housing. Rental markets in the city are taking advantage of these students, exploiting them financially and racially.
Bassina Farbenblum, director of Human Rights Clinic UNSW, highlighted that high rental prices and limited options force students into difficult situations. Many students are not aware of their legal rights, and landlords exploit this lack of knowledge to engage in unlawful practices.
Students experience exploitation through sudden rent hikes, additional charges for minor services, and problems with recovering rental bonds. Some landlords even discriminate against students based on their ethnicity or country of origin, which is illegal under Sydney’s accommodation laws.
A study by Kingsford Legal Centre revealed that around 40% of students seek help against exploitative landlords, and 25% of them approach authorities regarding issues with rental bonds.
Ruturaj Khenat, an engineering student from Mumbai, fell victim to landlord exploitation. In the middle of his accommodation lease, his landlord informed him of a rent increase from $300 to $410 per week. Ruturaj sought help from his university’s legal office, and they intervened by sending a letter to the landlord, causing the rent increase to be canceled.
Unfortunately, not all students are aware of their legal rights like Ruturaj. Many students on his floor received similar notices from their landlords, and some complied, while others had to move out. International students often avoid taking action in a foreign country to avoid trouble.
The study also revealed the exploitation of students by companies offering accommodation guarantees upon arrival. Many students pay significant amounts to these companies, only to find out that the promised accommodations are not ready or do not match the description.
These exploitative practices can have serious effects on the mental health and academic performance of students. To address these issues, the report provides 12 recommendations, including increasing on-campus housing and reducing rental prices.
Other solutions include building affordable student residences throughout the city and reducing public transport costs. Cheaper transportation options would allow students to live farther from the university, where accommodation might be more affordable.