A Queensland real estate agency has defended sending tenants an email asking if they wanted to gift their landlords a hamper for Christmas.
Renters were sent the email by their agent Kanik & Co which listed a range of hampers priced between $50 and $115 which could be given to their landlord.
"This year has been particularly challenging for both our tenants and property owners alike and we understand some tenants would like to thank their property owner for everything in 2021," the Logan-based agent said in the email.
The email stressed the gift was "100 per cent optional".
Tenant unions brand email 'gross'
Penny Carr, CEO of Tenants Queensland, told Yahoo News Australia such an email was particularly concerning due to the location of tenants and the time of year.
"There are a lot of struggling tenants in that area, a high unemployment rate and a lot of people living in housing stress," she said.
"They don’t need the subtle – or not so subtle – pressure to increase their sense of housing security by purchasing expensive presents for their lessor."
Housing policy expert and CEO of the Tenants Union of NSW, Leo Patterson Ross, told Yahoo News Australia it was unfair to suggest landlords had faced the same financial burden during the pandemic.
"In the area where this agency operates rents have risen 20 per cent over the last year and property prices 24 per cent. The landlords are doing very well," he said.
"It is gross to claim that renters and landlords have both had a tough year."
Letting agent upset over reaction
But Kanik & Co director Michael Kanik told Yahoo News Australia the email had been taken out of context, stressing he had some tenants asking how they could send cards and gifts to their landlords before sending the email to all tenants to facilitate anyone who wanted to.
"It's just one half of the story. The first step was landlords providing gifts to tenants to say thank you," he said.
But Mr Kanik said tenants were unaware the gift offering was first proposed to landlords to gift to tenants. A similar letter about hampers had been sent to the property owners.
He declined to comment on the agency's remarks the year had been challenging for both tenants and landlords.
However he categorically rejected suggestions the email would put pressure on renters concerned they'd lose their tenancy in the future if a gift was not given.
"We're not making a single cent out of this... we work closely with all our tenants and landlords, and it was purely us just trying to do something nice for them," he added.
Email sparks angry response on social media
The email has been shared on social media, triggering an angry response from a raft of renters.
"Thank you for letting me pay off your mortgage. Here's a little more of my money as a sign of my gratitude," one person responded sarcastically.
"I think my weekly payment is thanks enough," another said.
One person described it as "not logical", with many questioning if the gift should be instead be given to the tenant by the landlord, particularly as many have been hit hard during Covid.
One comment said the email was "absolutely disgusting".
Some users did however say they had been heartened by the treatment they'd received from their landlords, suggesting they'd consider a gift.
However some said they believed a card would suffice and any gift should be unprompted.
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