Real estate agent's 'excessive' demands for inspection: 'Need to chill'

An angry tenant has hit out at their real estate agent for issuing a lengthy list of demands ahead of a routine inspection.

The Newcastle, NSW, resident argued that "people should not have to be degraded and mistreated" just because they're "not a homeowner" and questioned whether or not the requests were acceptable.

The 23-year-old shared screenshots of an email they received outlining what's expected of them during the inspection.

But they are "not usual or acceptable demands," Leo Patterson Ross from The Tenants’ Union of NSW told Yahoo News Australia, and they "potentially breach the tenancy agreement".

Sydney apartment blocks
The tenant said they're often mistreated because they aren't homeowners. Source: Getty

Real estate agent's excessive demands

"Honestly have to just laugh at some of the things real estate agents say for a ROUTINE INSPECTION," the tenant wrote on Reddit.

"Seriously, they need to chill."

They also highlighted a few points they took particular offence to. Among them was the six-hour timeframe in which they were told to be available.

The agent — who hasn't been identified — wrote that they are "unable to confirm specific arrival times" so instead requested that the tenant be home from 9am to 3pm.

"Please DO NOT contact our office regarding the above as refusal often offends," they wrote in the email.

To make matters worse, the agent insisted that the tenant "remains in one room whilst this inspection is taking place". This is a Covid safety measure, they claim.

Real estate agent letter
The real estate letter was shared online where it was slammed by other renters. Source: Reddit

There was also a long checklist of things that must be cleaned ahead of time.

On it, the agent stated that the fly screens must be "removed carefully and hosed or brushed to remove dirt."

Demands are 'excessive and intended to intimidate'

Mr Patterson Ross said there are a number of issues with this correspondence.

"We consider the inspection time an invalid notice, it is too vague, and the 'requirement' to remain in one room is unenforceable under current health orders," he told Yahoo News Australia.

He added that it's "inadvisable for people with contents insurance as it risks nullifying a tenants' ability to make a claim if theft or damage occurs during the inspection".

As for the list of cleaning demands, "they're excessive and feel intended to intimidate rather than meet the tenancy obligations," he said.

"A tenants' ongoing obligation for premises (eg while they're still living in them) is to keep the premises reasonably clean — justifying an item like emptying and washing garbage bins would be a challenge," he explained.

for lease sign
Leo Patterson Ross from The Tenants’ Union of NSW told Yahoo News Australia the demands are 'not usual or acceptable'. Source: Getty

Ongoing issue for renters

The tenant said the email highlights an ongoing issue for renters and said "real estate agents need to be more respectful."

To make matters worse, the high rental demand in Australia at the moment means "real estate agents and landlords can do as they please," they said.

"I am only 23-years-old and have had to quickly learn how to stand up for myself after being threatened and intimidated for money at the last place I rented," they wrote in the comments.

"People just trying to have somewhere to live should not have to be degraded and mistreated just because they are not a homeowner!"

Others agreed the list of demands is "completely unacceptable", with many urging the tenant to go to the tribunal.

"This state needs some serious tenancy law reforms," one said.

"Please tell me you’ve taken this to the tribunal? This is completely unacceptable," wrote another.

No protection for renters

This type of "excessive and unlawful behaviour is allowed to occur because of the imbalanced way our renting system is set up," Mr Patterson Ross told Yahoo.

"Renters are vulnerable to the use of 'no grounds evictions' and with such a long-term and worsening shortage of genuinely affordable and available alternatives to move to, they are unable to effectively resist breaches of the law or contract," he said.

Unlike other essential services, Mr Patterson Ross said there is no effective government oversight of the quality and standards of both the properties and the people delivering the essential service.

And there's protection against consumers of those services when things go wrong.

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