Not pleased with this unethical attempt to gather private information from tenants which would, in turn, be used to justify giving them little to no rent relief, one individual decided to give his landlord a taste of his own medicine.
While some property owners are going out of their way to help their tenants during this time of economic downfall, Joshua Badge's landlord needed a little reminder that this isn't the time to make unreasonable demands. Like thousands of individuals around the world, Badge and his partner in Victoria, Australia, recently lost their sources of income due to the novel Coronavirus pandemic. With no other means in sight, they contacted their landlord with a request for rent relief while they wait to find out whether they are eligible for the newly boosted JobSeeker (Australia’s version of unemployment) welfare payment.
For all of the landlords out there who tried to find loopholes to evict your tenants yesterday pic.twitter.com/25EWiqCamW— The Unslanderable (@UTxJGTheDon) April 2, 2020
In response, their property manager sent them a hardship application form in which they were asked to list their expenditure on groceries, entertainment, and utilities. The form also asked tenants to disclose whether they have drawn down on their superannuation (a retirement fund) and if they have any accrued leave at their place of work. Speaking to Domain, Badge said: "They wanted to know the number of accrued leave hours, which strikes me as out of order and which to me says they expect you to use that to pay rent. I’m a casual so I don’t have any, and even if I did am I meant to live off leave?"
I asked for a rent pause so my property agency demanded to know how much super I have & how much I spend on foodhttps://t.co/imutmmlPQB— Joshua Badge (@joshuabadge) April 1, 2020
"And even if they did expect me to rob Peter to pay Paul by raiding my retirement fund, it seems very unethical in the time of the pandemic, even if it wasn’t already. This places the power in their hands at the expense of renters who have very few rights," he added. Badge felt that the questions about how much tenants spend on entertainment and groceries were way too intrusive. "That’s particularly paternalistic because they’re going to use that information to deem if people are worthy of a rent pause. What are they going to say? That we’ve been spending too much money on food and essentials?" he asked.
When I asked my property manager if the landlord expects tenants to raid their super they said “you should be taking advantage of it”. These ghouls can expect a letter from ASIC directly pic.twitter.com/M1yBIFaTRa— Joshua Badge (@joshuabadge) April 2, 2020
Not pleased with this unethical attempt to gather private information from tenants which would, in turn, be used to justify giving them little to no rent relief, Badge decided to give his landlord a taste of his own medicine. Responding to the property agency's demand for his expense list, he wrote: To this end, Henry and I think it’s only fair that we understand our landlord’s income and living expenses to assess what is fair for everyone. Our landlord is welcome to refuse, but it will make it difficult to establish if they are in genuine distress.
Agents & landlords who pressure tenants to raid their retirement fund face up to 5 years in prison or fines of $120k for individuals & $1m for businesses. If your agent or landlord has done this, forward them the letter and tell them that ASIC is watching!!— Joshua Badge (@joshuabadge) April 2, 2020
As per the article you provided, we would like to know whether the landlord is taking advantage of the mortgage payment reprieve? Does the landlord have accrued leave, savings, etc. with which they could cover mortgage repayments? he asked. Badge's response seemed to have ruffled some feathers over at the property agency as they soon reached out to him with a request to "talk."
"People being coerced into raiding retirements funds are going to miss out on potentially decade of compound interests, thousands of dollars," Badge told Junkee. "Is the landlord raiding their retirement funds to pay their mortgage? We’re in a context where landlords think they have all the power and are in a position to take advantage of the situation... some are getting mortgage relief (from banks) with no obligation for them to pass that on to tenants."
They all seem to be assuming that people are going to forget how landlords treated people at this time. I foresee a lot of new legislation around negative gearing and rental market regulation in the future.— Michelle Watson (@MichWatsonOz) April 1, 2020
Although the Australian government has introduced an eviction moratorium protecting tenants for the next six months, some are still being threatened with tribunals or eviction once the six-month freeze is over. Badge’s response to his landlord's outrageous demand gained him quite a few fans online who clearly relate to his current situation.
This is WILD. If landlords don't have to access their super to afford their mortgage payments for 6 months, how tf can they ethically expect you to access yours to continue paying rent for 6 months.— Keeks (@keeks_1996) April 1, 2020
I am...— Whoreora Borealis (@zaddybaghdaddy) April 1, 2020
Stanning so hard
Oh Josh, this is just so brutally savage. I live for it. ❤️— Matthew Thompson (@matthewtgreens) April 1, 2020
Fuck that last para hits like perfect gravy on mash— Michael Beveridge (@mickyb273) April 1, 2020