An internal email sent to Meriton staff has leaked online, further igniting tension between renters and agents as rental prices continue to soar in Australia.
The email reportedly sent by management to staff asked for property managers to capitalise on the market "being on fire" and suggested they push "rents as hard as possible".
Agents were also recommended to offer six-month leases to prospective renters so rent increases could be introduced sooner rather than later in the rising market.
"Ensure you push above the targets, especially if you have nothing available and doing 6 months leases," instructed the email.
Meriton, who pride themselves as Australia's largest apartment developer, offer leasing and property management services on 4,250 properties across the country.
The email was shared on Reddit and triggered an onslaught of comments condemning the behaviour and calling for a change.
"These greedy scumbags ruin it for everyone," said one.
"We need more regulation around rentals," pleaded another.
Meriton respond to backlash
Despite the online outrage, Meriton stand firm that their actions simply ensure the landlords they represent "achieve market rent".
Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, a spokesperson insisted recent rent increases are not "greedy" and instead are a "reflection of the value set by the market".
"The rents are no greater than they were before COVID and of course the costs have gone up. The rent increases have nothing to do with greed or Meriton apartments would not be at capacity," the spokesperson said, warning renters to prepare for more increases in the coming months.
"If Meriton were greedy, they would be unable to lease any of its own apartments. The banks are increasing interest rates rapidly, why are they not being called greedy? Meriton is building more apartments than any other developer in relation to Build-For-Rent. In that way, we are doing more to keep rent increases at a stable pace.”
It could be argued the high demand for rental properties in Sydney right now is forcing desperate renters to begrudgingly accept high rent prices to ensure they have a roof over their heads.
Social media has been full of alarming images of renters lining the street before a property viewing, highlighting the dire lack of vacant properties available and exacerbating the sentiment that renting any overpriced property may be better than none at all.
Students to further lower vacancy rates
The rise in inflation rates was also cited as a reason for Meriton's increase in rental prices.
"Recent inflationary pressures have also impacted rent values," the spokesperson added.
Figures released by SQM Research highlighted that only 1.4 per cent of all rental properties in the city were vacant in November, and with students soon to be searching for accomodation before the academic year begins, the number of vacant properties is expected to be next to nothing.
Meriton acknowledged the "chronic undersupply of apartments" and said they are currently cooperating with local and state governments to fast-track housing approvals, but expressed no plans to change their current strategy.
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