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28th Feb 2024

‘A woman lived in a van outside my apartment and used it when I wasn’t home — it was my landlord’


She went through their mail and bins, and even brought her dog through the property

A renter has told how she discovered her landlord was living outside their home and sneaking in to use the bathroom and kitchen while they were out.

In a TikTok about her “nightmare landlord” in Sydney, Australia, Tahlia explained how she and her husband moved from Brisbane, and while “naive” about the rental crisis, the couple thought they were doing everything right.

They settled on a “fully furnished” property, close to the city, at an affordable price.

But little did they know it came with something unexpected – the landlord.

In her TikTok, Thalia explained the couple thought they were “doing the right thing because we went through a legitimate, well-known real estate (agents). And I would never recommend that one.”

She did not name the real estate agents.

Things didn’t quite fit from the moment Tahlia picked up the keys.

On arrival, the couple noticed the screen door was locked, but the front door was open.


Sometimes we drive past the place to see if the van’s there and usually it is 💀💀 #rentalcrisisaustralia #rentalcrisissydney #nightmareowner #rentingaustralia

♬ original sound – Tahlia Smith

“It smelled like it had just been cleaned, like 10 minutes before,” Thalia said, explaining that the fan was on, as were the lights, and the back door was unlocked.

She also found bananas and canned foods around the kitchen, and a cat was trying to get into the property.

The real estate agent, Thalia explained, had done an entry report in the morning, so she knew something was up.

“Was somebody living in here, like an hour ago?” she asked the agent.

Ignoring the red flags, she and her husband lived on the property “for a long time.”

Later, they noticed a woman sitting in their front yard and frequently checked their mailbox and bins.

Tahlia explained that they “knew all the tenants” that lived in the area, and this woman “wasn’t one of them.”

Turns out, the landlord was living in a van out the front of the unit.

“When you would leave, she would use our bathroom, the kitchen, and she’d use our laundry without our knowledge,” Tahlia revealed.

“And the real estate was, somehow, allowing this to happen.”

Thalia said the woman would also enter the house with her dog and go through the couple’s mail and bins.

One day when Tahlia was working from home, she spotted the landlord sitting in the front yard “with a mate having a cup of tea.”

According to NSW Fair Trading, a landlord may only enter a rented property “without the tenant’s consent if they provide notice to the tenant.”

There are a minimum of two days’ notice required when inspecting the property unless the landlord believes the property has been abandoned, if urgent repairs are required or if there is an emergency.

The couple eventually moved out, but Thalia wrote in the caption of her video that, “sometimes we drive past the place to see if the van’s there and usually it is.”

Rather than make a formal complaint, as some commenters suggested the couple do, Thalia said they simply asked “to break lease without penalty, the agent agreed and we left asap. Wasn’t worth the legal battle but we would have won.”

Commenters were predictably outraged by Thalia’s revelations.

“This is insanity, are you kidding me?!! I’m so glad you’re out of there,” one person wrote.

Another person said: “I would have exposed her on Current Affair! Obviously, she had some troubles, but that is no excuse to use your things sorry ‘steal’ How awful.”

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