A room for rent has been advertised for the low price of $140 per week, including utilities. The catch? The price appears to be for just one mattress on the floor in a room accommodating three people.
The Surfers Paradise listing on Facebook Marketplace, displaying a scarce room furnished with three mattresses and two side tables, was described in the ad as a "large room" where "three females can easily fit". The ad has copped immense backlash from people online who have labelled the place as "creepy" and a big "red flag".
The seemingly cheap accommodation, just 10 minutes on transport from Surfers Paradise beaches, was posted online by a male, though it is unclear if he lives in the property. After a flood of negative backlash from horrified locals, the listing was removed on Thursday morning.
"It's a mattress on the floor of some dude's spare room who's asking for females only in close proximity to three other people... If that isn't raising red flags I don't know what will," one person said.
"If there was some effort made to make it endurable, I would be more sympathetic, but this is craven and gross. Buy beds, give people basic privacy. '3 Female' also makes my skin crawl as a woman," shared another.
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Is renting out part of a room legal?
According to Queensland's Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA), and similar to other Aussie jurisdictions, a tenant can sublet part of their property with permission from the property manager or owner. Or, an owner can choose to rent out their property as rooming accommodation or boarding to multiple people.
When it comes to how many people are allowed to rent just one room, there are no clear laws to abide by. Though, each state or territory has specific legislation to keep renters and homeowners protected and part of this includes minimum housing standards, also known as fit for habitation standards, to ensure properties rented out are safe and private.
Queensland's minimum housing standards state that rental properties must "include curtains or other window coverings, which provide privacy in rooms where the tenant might reasonably expect it, such as bedrooms".
As well as this, landlords must take reasonable steps to ensure the tenant has quiet enjoyment of the premises they are renting.
Some argue the ad is targeting international students
Among the shocked Aussies tearing the listing apart online are those who believe it is cheap accommodation "intended to take advantage" of international students. "I've had friends from uni nearly fall prey to this type of stuff," one person said.
Almost all universities support their international students to find safe and secure accommodation. A University of Sydney spokesperson told Yahoo this even includes offering emergency accommodation and financial assistance to those who need it.
Tips from the University of Sydney for students looking for accommodation include:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Write a list of questions and ask the landlord or property manager. Are you allowed to have guests? What facilities are shared?
Look before you pay: Make sure you thoroughly inspect any property before paying a deposit or signing a contract. Never pay money through a funds transfer to a private rental agency or individual you don’t know.
Reporting 'dodgy' rentals
An RTA spokesperson told Yahoo News property managers and owners have a general obligation under the QLD Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 to ensure a property is fit to live in and meets all health and safety requirements.
"If a tenant believes that the rental property does not meet minimum housing standards, they can apply to QCAT [tribunal] for an urgent repair order. If an urgent repair order is awarded by QCAT and a property manager or owner fails to comply with this repair order the RTA can commence enforcement actions," they said.
Anyone wishing to report a potential breach of standards can do so via their local rental authority website.
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