‘Scam’: Renter’s shock email from agent
A real estate agent’s bungled email has drawn the ire of Australian renters after exposing their suggestion to force a tenant out for his “high maintenance” requests.
Screenshots of the exchange went viral after they were posted online to Don't Rent Me, a 50,000 strong Facebook group dedicated to swapping renting stories, by an anonymous Victorian.
The message appears to show the real estate agent accidentally replying to the tenant, instead of forwarding their request for a lease extension to the landlord, Tony.
The agent, whose name is blurred, encourages Tony to offer an “exorbitant increase” to hopefully force the tenant to move.
“In order to play this smooth, I think you should offer to renew the lease but with an exorbitant increase (I’m thinking go from $500 to $950) and attribute it to the current rental market,” the email reads.
“I don’t think we’d get this much if we relisted, but we’d certainly get a bit of a boost, not to mention the peace of mind of having a better tenant.”
They add that Tony’s property would have a new tenant within a week or two due to the current rental crisis, but if the renter accepted the increase it would be a “surprise win”.
The agent justifies the action by saying the renter is “high maintenance”, wasting their time by making maintenance requests.
“On one occasion (concerning the aircon) he called every day for two weeks,” the emails reads.
“The receptions (sic) are sick of him.”
Posting the exchange online, the renter asks whether he should consider taking action against the real estate agent in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
“So my agent has stuffed up and replied to me instead of forwarding my email to the owner,” he said.
“The scam is now out in the open. Given that they’ve admitted to a punitive increase because I’ve asked them to repair their broken down flat, can I take them to VCAT?”
Tenants Victoria chief executive Jennifer Beveridge said life as a renter remains hard for many people amid record low vacancy rates.
We need actions to address their needs,” she said.
“Fixing a ‘fairness formula’ to regulate the amount which rent can be increased by in our state would be a modest intervention because, quite frankly, the rental market is failing too many.
“Unaffordable rent increases, late or no repairs and VCAT delays indicate that rental law reforms are an unfinished project in our state.”
The exchange hit too close to home with many Australians, who shared similar stories online and questioned why repair requests were seen as a “bad thing”.
“A ‘better tenant’ because apparently a tenant who wants to keep the property in a working order is bad?” a puzzled commenter said.
Another wrote that they had a similar occurrence after they requested a leaking hot water system be fixed, receiving an email saying they’d leave it until “she just doesn’t have hot water one day”.
Another said this was why they were “reluctant” to put in maintenance requests.
“I can guarantee this wouldn’t be the first time a RE has done something like this,” a fourth said.
A recent report into Australia’s housing market by PropTrack found the number of low-cost rentals has almost halved.
The number of properties listed for less than $400 a week across Australia fell from more than a third to just 16.2 per cent in 2023
PropTrack senior economist Eleanor Creagh said the drop represented a dramatic new shift for renters.
“The share of affordable rentals is plummeting, meaning conditions remain challenging for low-income Australians,” she said.
In April, national advertised rents soared by a staggering 11 per cent year-on-year off the back of historically low vacancy rates.