CONFESSIONS of a real estate agent

​We call ourselves the "lucky country" but it seems as though the only people holding a ticket in the draw would be the childless, pet-free, middle-aged, heterosexual couple whose names imply they are not immigrants.

Now don't get me wrong, it's not that this "picturesque" (in the eyes of real estate agents) couple described above aren't deserving of a fair go either - but what about the rest of the Australians who don't fall within these parameters?

In a shocking confession from a real estate agent on a popular online message board, "EternityMiss" confesses to a tenant who is struggling to understand why he keeps getting rejected:

EternityMiss writes:

Heaps of reasons why and they don't have to tell you why. Typically we only look at the first 10 applications.

Look at the name to see if they are international. (Sorry but it happens. Deal with it)
Throw those away.

Next job status. Not employed/part time
Throw those away

Age – anyone under 25.
Throw those away.

Anyone who's applying as 'singles/two males /two females'
Throw those away

Anyone with kids
Throw those away

Anyone with pets
Throw those away.

Usually there's 1 or 2 left. Take them.

In response to EternityMiss, another user writes:

Don't you have a problem with what you've said in light of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, ss 20, 34, 38N, 48, 49N, 49ZQ and 49ZYO?

For instance, s 20(1) of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 says:

"It is unlawful for a person, whether as principal or agent, to discriminate against another person on the ground of race:

(a) by refusing the person’s application for accommodation,

(b) in the terms on which the person offers the person accommodation, or

(c) by deferring the person’s application for accommodation or according the person a lower order of precedence in any list of applicants for that accommodation."

EternityMiss declines to comment any further, however, another user by the name of "RealEstateAgent" in the same thread responds in defence of EternityMiss, with the following:

EternityMiss is 100% accurate in her description of the housing rental market. You may not like what she is saying but its all correct.

... and another backing up EternityMiss comments:

It's there house they choose who lives there, he who holds the gold makes the rules.

This is apparently the sentiment shared by many real estate agents who are responsible for passing on applications to the landlord for consideration as a new tenant.

It's blatantly clear that real estate agents and landlords are using questions asked of tenants in their applications, for the very clear purpose of illegally discriminating against honest tenants.

While this is a clear violation of the law, proving discrimination in rejected applications is extremely unlikely, if not impossible to achieve. The fact is, real estate agents and landlords do not have to disclose why an applicant was rejected, nor would they be honest in their submissions. This much they are honest about.

Why the discrimination and what can be done?

The fact of the matter is that there is no reasonable excuse for discrimination based upon:

  • Nationality
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital or Relationship status
  • Whether or not the applicant has children & pets

Despite the fact some of these being already illegal, there are no laws which prevent these questions from being required on tenancy application forms or that could be inferred through other sneaky questioning.

It is very obvious that this loophole is being exploited by many real estate agents and landlords for what could only be the purposes of discriminating against a tenant.

Tenant Rights will address clearly discriminatory based questions in tenancy applications by including provisions in the National Residential Tenancies Act (see National Tenancy Body), which disallows any legal life-style based questions that should not impact an otherwise successful tenancy application.

Please read about our National Tenancy Body, Anti Discrimination and Housing Affordability campaigns. We need you to join the fight for tenant rights!

5 Responses

  1. Name*
    I am a landlord that allows pets and tries not to discriminate. I believe I am a good landlord and have had long term tenants, with pets, who keep the home well looked after. I also believe the law should change and pets be allowed. Despite being very disappointed with the lack of care of some tenants , who left the house in a disgusting state and rent unpaid, I have continued to allow pets and always ensure the properties are well maintained and provide a comfortable home. However, through experience I will choose a tenant/s who has a steady job in the hope they are better able to keep paying rent. I cannot afford to lose the income or spend time chasing defaulting tenants and going to Vcat. I understand there can be job losses and try to accomodate tenants experiencing financial difficulty but landlords are not a charity and cannot be expected to provide a rent free home. Even with Landlord insurance, renting out property can be very stressful and time consuming if tenants fail to pay rent for an extended period. Thankfully most of my tenant experience, over the years, have been great and mutually beneficial.
  2. Ann
    As an ex property Manager I know too well how unbalance the scales are and how much power a lot of PM's think they have over tenants. Also how very different things are from state to state. I have longed for a system that was national, there is no reason for each state to be individual, especially now that it is so much easier to move between the states and territories. It can be so confusing with each states different legislations. Even in each state the tenancy authorities can read different inferences into legislation. The whole system is a joke and needs to be revamped from top to bottom. And as much as I hate to say it, the worst offenders in the real estate industry are property managers who are insufficiently trained and have no real working knowledge of the consequences of their actions or even worse inaction.
  3. Shell
    There are those of us that genuinely love what we do and genuinely care about prospective tenants and try to help as much as possible. Although we don't technically have to give you a reason as to why your application wasn't successful there are ways you can find out of your application was, at the very least, processed by getting in contact with your references to see if they were contacted. If you know there are a fair few people applying for the same property be sure to speak with the PM and leave a positive impression. Ensure your application is filled out correctly and don't be shy about asking for help of you get stuck. I'd be happy to submit an article on tips to give you the best chance of landing that rental pproperty. S
  4. A Finlay
    Being retired now and lucky enough to rent privately a flat I can afford, I know that my children will have to be guarantors in any future rental applications. I have been discriminated against in the past by a very arrogant young property manager who accused me of lying about my pet, which had already found a new home. The accusation was based on gossip. Older people in general have no hope of fair treatment.
    • A
      As a young parent from a single income family, with two children & a very well behaved, inside & outside dog, I can tell you that it's not just the elderly discriminated against. I'm sorry for your experience with arrogant agents, but I've had exactly the same & it's absolutely disgusting :(

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