Finding a rental in Australia has become increasingly challenging for tenants, with some landlords requiring a “cover letter” to be submitted along with the application.
The cover letter asks applicants to include details about themselves, their hobbies, and reasons why they are the best fit for the property.
“Introduce yourself,” the web page prompts.
“Share with the agent and landlord why you are the best fit for the property. Include details about yourself, any hobbies and why you want this property,” it continued.
Some Reddit users have joked about the requirement, with one saying, “I’ve always had a passion for not being homeless,” and another saying, “In my spare time, I enjoy ensuring that my asthmatic child doesn’t die from complications resulting from household black mould.”
A landlord in Melbourne recently revealed that they had received 18 applications for their newly available apartment, but only two were short-listed for consideration.
The landlord stated that none of the applicants had offered to pay more than the advertised price, leading to the conclusion that other factors were used to determine which applicants would be ideal tenants without the landlord’s knowledge.
This led the landlord to express concern about the power real estate agents (REAs) have in filtering applicants.
“None had offered more than asking (price),” they wrote on Reddit, meaning other factors had been used to determine which applicant would be an ideal tenant – all without the landlord’s knowledge.
Laurence Troy, a lecturer in urbanism at the University of Sydney, confirmed that renters could expect their applications to be whittled down “every single time,” with most of them being rejected based on the metric the estate agent has used to determine whether the tenant meets their threshold.
“They probably see it as part of their job to filter out what they think are the best applications … Of course, what they decide is best may not align with what the property owner wants,” he said.
Some agents even access data such as utility payment history and social media activity, with one Queensland firm asking prospective tenants to fill out personality questionnaires according to Sophia Maalsen, secretary of Shelter NSW.
It was the “only area” in which women had an advantage, she said.
“Single parents with children have a particularly hard time,” Dr Maalsen told news.com.au.
“Women who have been victims of domestic violence – which can be inferred due to a rocky rental history, periods living in a shelter, or living at addresses where there have been domestic disputes – are also frequently rejected.
“A lot of this bias is unconscious, so it’s extremely difficult to legislate against
“I’m quite cynical, because it’s just so difficult to find a rental right now. There’s very little tenants can do beyond fitting these hyper-specific criteria.”
However, some tenants have found creative solutions to the current housing crisis. A group of students from the University of Technology, Sydney have created Nesteek, a platform designed as a rival to Airbnb specifically for young renters.
The platform allows tenants to have a guest stay in their property while they are on holidays, thus covering their rent.
The CEO of Nesteek, Keith Schembri, stated that their rallying cry is “do not pay rent while away” because many young professionals and students cannot afford to.
With rental prices increasing at a rate of 25 per cent per year compared to just 3 per cent for wages, Schembri believes that Gen Zers should not have to miss out on key life experiences like travel or pay for their rent while they are out getting these experiences.
Story Credit: news.com.au