Real estate agents use new scare tactics as rental crisis deepens
Real estate agents give tenants an ultimatum: submit invasive amounts of personal information to a third-party website or end up homeless.
A parliamentary committee will continue its examination of the growing impact of the country’s rental crisis at hearings in Melbourne on Wednesday.
The educational organization Digital Rights Watch says real estate is “one of the most data-invasive industries.”
The growing use of digital technologies and automated systems in real estate has allowed the industry to accumulate enormous amounts of information about buyers, renters and those looking to inspect homes.
Renters in particular are often forced to register on third-party sites and submit sensitive information such as birth certificates, passports and driver’s licenses as a condition of renting a home.
A parliamentary committee has heard real estate is “one of the most data-invasive industries” at hearings in Melbourne.
An April survey by consumer advocacy group CHOICE found that 41% of renters were pressured to use a third-party platform and about two-thirds of users were uncomfortable with the amount of information disclosed.
But many tenants have no choice but to use these platforms.
One tenant participating in the survey said some real estate agents will only accept applications through these websites.
“It is costly, dangerous and unfair for tenants to have to provide so much personal and detailed information,” she said.
Not only does this endanger tenants’ privacy and digital security, it exacerbates pre-existing issues in the rental market such as accessibility, fairness, affordability, and the power imbalance between tenants and landlords.
Some websites like Snug generate a score on each tenant’s demand that increases if a tenant increases their supply, while other platforms impose mandatory fees.
The sites could thus favor tenants with greater means.
The amount of information these platforms provide to landlords has also allowed them to monitor housing and potentially racially profile and discriminate against potential tenants.
According to CHOICE, one applicant was asked if they identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, although questions about racial identification in private rentals are prohibited.
Another submission from the First Peoples Disability Network Australia found that those who were more identifiable as Indigenous were less likely to be accepted as tenants and those whose application was accepted were almost twice as likely to pay more than 30 per cent of the their household income. for rent.
The committee heard that prospective tenants are often required to submit sensitive information such as birth certificates, passports and driving licenses to third-party websites.
The parliamentary committee will also hear from tenant associations, public policy think tank the Grattan Institute, property owners groups, homeless organizations and people with experience in the rental market.
Its final report on the rental crisis is expected by November 28.
13SON 13 92 76
Indigenous advisory services 0410 539 905