A Sydney real estate agent has responded to accusations of unlawful discrimination after a rental listing for a one-bedroom property demanded male applicants pay an extra $50 a week – due to what they claimed was a typical male trait.
A screenshot taken from the Domain website and shared on social media appears to show details about the terrace house in the inner-west suburb of Newtown. The ad stated the extra amount for males was "due to their propensity to be messier" and those who disagreed shouldn't apply.
With the small detail attracting plenty of negative attention, many were quick to point out the controversial gender rule is actually unlawful.
However following intense backlash, the listing agent from Viewey Real Estate denied any wrongdoing and claimed to Yahoo News Australia "it's fake", insisting it was "a scam", but refusing to elaborate. He said the gender rule was "something I haven't posted before" suggesting it never existed on the listing which appears to have been updated on Monday, April 24, according to the timestamp visible on the website.
'Illegal' rental listing slammed
An anonymous poster first shared a screenshot of the listing on Facebook on Saturday where they questioned the legality of the request. The agent confirmed with Yahoo the screenshot was the Newtown listing as many claimed.
"I’ve been forced to move by an unaffordable rent increase and it’s hard enough without having to deal with sh*t like this. I am perfectly tidy. Is this even legal?" they wrote addressing the tough rental conditions in Australia.
The gender-based request was listed at the bottom of the property description and read: "Male applicants will be required to pay $50 a week extra in rent due to their propensity to be messier than females. If you do not agree with this do not apply."
The alleged rental gouging also caught the attention of a Sydney-based university researcher. "Woah, check out this snapshot of what it’s like living to rent in Sydney. For only $915 a week, you can rent a 1bedroom house that comes with the promise of unlawful discrimination," they tweeted. Other social media users noted the changes made to the listing with claims the asking price was knocked down to $745 from $915.
What does the law say?
According to NSW Fair Trading, a landlord or agent can choose "the most suitable applicant for the property but they are not allowed to unfairly discriminate." In NSW, it is against the law to discriminate based on race, sex or age, among others things.
This also means that a landlord or agent "cannot apply a rule, policy, practice or procedure that adversely affects a group of people". This includes "offering a property on different terms, such as a higher than necessary income".
Leo Patterson, CEO of the Tenants' Union of NSW, said whether or not this ad is genuine, "this situation demonstrates that the real estate industry is held in low regard due to past experiences across the industry".
"Industry leaders and regulators should be working to ensure that the industry can genuinely be seen as reliable, professionals working as part of the system to ensure people can find good quality homes for affordable prices," he told Yahoo News Australia.
'Illegal' listing dubbed 'blatant discrimination'
The original listing shocked social media users who not only slammed the initial asking price but agreed the agent's request was "categorically illegal" and "blatant discrimination"
"$915?!? for 1 bedroom?!? wtffff. I used to live in Newtown but got priced outta there long ago but that's just ridiculous," one local posted on Facebook. "Stupid!! Discrimination," said another.
Responding on Twitter, one person pointed out that if even it was legal to make such a request, "it’s none of the landlord’s business whether you’re messy or not as long as the property is not damaged."
Another dubbed it "absolutely criminal" while others simply pointed out the obvious, arguing gender had nothing to do with how messy a person can be.
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