A room in the heart of Brisbane has been listed on social media for rent — boasting rooftop facilities and an envious view — with one lucky tenant told they can claim the space if they share how much they are "willing" to pay for it.
The advertisement for the master bedroom and ensuite in the two-bedroom apartment, which overlooks Brisbane Cricket Ground, was recently posted online, sparking backlash from potential tenants who accused the landlord of encouraging rent bidding.
"Price isn't actually $339 [per week]," the listing on Facebook marketplace says in parenthesis. "It's dependent on how much you are willing to offer, length of lease, bills etc."
The description of the room was later posted in another Facebook group dedicated to renters with the caption: "It's all in the fine print."
As thousands of people around the country struggle to secure a property and contend with rent increases, the landlord's comment irked many, however it is not illegal — as many outraged commenters believed.
Online rental advertisements less regulated
In Queensland, real estate agencies are legally required to advertise the space at a fixed price, however, because online rental advertisements are less regulated, it is possible tenants could be subjected to dodgy behaviour if a property is being advertised by the owner directly as they do not face the same restrictions.
"Agents can't advertise properties as being within a price range or advertised with text asking for offers or being by negotiation," Tenants' Union of NSW Policy and Advocacy Manager, Jemima Mowbray, told Yahoo News Australia.
"Where a landlord or housing provider is directly listing a property they do not face the same restrictions, though it is pretty bad practice!"
The NSW government is taking strides to close this loophole, with the introduction of the Rental Fairness Bill by Fair Trading Minister Anoulack Chanthivong last month. If passed, the bill will ensure property owners who are advertising rentals, either privately or on online platforms, meet the same fixed price requirement.
Risks involved with finding a rental property online
Many online platforms like Facebook and Gumtree advertise accomodation for rent, however, there are several disadvantages associated with this for tenants, such as scams or laws not being adhered to.
"Renters can unfortunately be caught out by dodgy listings. Everyone should make sure they can verify a rental advertisement regardless of where it is published," Ms Mowbray urged.
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