A Victorian Renter Had To Shit In A Literal Bucket After Requests For Maintenance Were Ignored

Victorian renter was forced to shit in a bucket after a contractor removed her toilet, a shocking investigation into the state’s social housing system has revealed.

Jasmine, a woman in her 60s, said she had to use “a bucket in the backyard” for several days after a contractor removed her toilet and left her without a temporary replacement.

She was also forced to wait 18 months for the government to fix her dilapidated bathroom, which included tiles falling off the walls, mould that smelt like it was “rotting”, and multiple leaks that made the room slippery and dangerous.

The bathroom wasn’t her first complaint either. Just months earlier, Jasmine was trapped in her house for two days after a door handle broke off and a contractor was sent to the wrong address.

She said the experience was “traumatising”, with the worst part being made to “feel like we’re whingeing” about the conditions. She added that many people in social housing were scared of complaining, as they were worried they’d “get in trouble and have to move out”.

Jasmine was trapped for two days after a door handle fell off and a contractor didn’t show up. Image: Getty.

Jasmine’s story is just one of many such cases the Victorian Ombudsman has investigated as part of its report into the state of social housing.

Speaking on the incidents, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said the social housing system was “complicated, confusing and under-resourced” and was putting renter’s “health and safety were at risk”. She said that although some progress had being made over the past few years, there was a “clear lack of action” from the state government.

“The systemic issues are not going away,” she said.

“Change is now even more critical, as Victorians grapple with dual housing and cost-of-living crises, increasing homelessness and an evolving social housing landscape, including the looming redevelopment of public housing towers.”

Glass said the problem was only getting worse, with complaints about social housing rising a staggering 83 per cent over the past two years.

“All too often we receive complaints about basic needs such as running water and electricity, and reasonably maintained, clean and safe premises,” she said.

“Regularly and repeatedly renters in public housing reported a broken complaint system. They spoke of experiencing delays, and sometimes they reached the point where they felt their health and safety were at risk.

“This has been a longstanding problem that requires urgent reform.”

Despite this, the Victorian Housing Register has acknowledged the report and says it is “currently considering improvements to its complaints process” and “remains focused on good complaint handling through early and local responses”.

All that renters actually want is a comfortable, clean home, preferably with functioning plumbing. Is that really too much to ask?