A high-profile real estate agency has defended its strategy of encouraging landlords to slug tenants with higher rents, in some cases saying an extra $10,000 a year can be squeezed out of renters.
A marketing email from Ray White’s West End branch in Brisbane, obtained by 7 News, said its property managers have been recommending rent increases averaging 17 per cent for leases renewed in October and November.
It went on to say an average rent rise of over 20 per cent is being recommended for December lease renewals.
“This can be as much as $10,000 per year in additional rental income," the leaked email read.
“Interestingly most tenants are agreeable to the rent increase, as when they look at what is available in the market for rent they understand the rent is fair and reasonable.”
But the CEO of Tenants Queensland has slammed the remark as a “line real estate agents tell themselves to feel a bit better about pushing rents up”.
“People are having to agree to these outrageous, opportunistic rent increases because they’re fearful of becoming homeless,” Penny Carr told Yahoo News Australia.
“What we’re seeing many times is these rent increases are coming with a notice to leave if you don’t take it. There’s no negotiation or power for the tenant in it. They’re being put over a barrel.”
Greens slam strategy and call for rent freeze
Greens spokesperson for housing and homelessness, Max Chandler-Mathew, says the call to raise rent is “flagrant price gouging”.
“The outrageous profiteering Ray White is encouraging is a perfect example of why we need to freeze rent increases for two-years nationwide,” he told Yahoo News Australia.
“When we’re seeing families sleeping in cars and tents because of a dire shortage of affordable housing, it’s disgusting to see real estate agents treating this as a chance to cash in.”
State government urges 'compassion' from landlords
However the state opposition says renters shouldn't be blaming landlords or real estate agents for increasing prices while Brisbane battles a record low vacancy rate of 0.7 per cent.
“They should be blaming the Queensland State Government,” Tim Mander told Yahoo News Australia.
“The only reason that something like this would happen is because there are not enough houses. This is a result of poor policy by the Queensland State Labor government.”
When questioned on what it is doing to address the state’s crisis, the Minister for Communities and Housing told Yahoo News Australia she is consulting with a wide range of peak industry bodies, non-government providers and private sector stakeholders at this week’s Housing Summit.
Leeanne Enoch said it was “appalling to see a handful of real estate agencies issuing substantial rent increases amid unprecedented pressures on the entire housing system”.
“I would strongly urge compassion on the part of real estate agents and property owners,” she said.
Ray White says Queensland government is to blame
Amid the war of words, Ray White is standing behind its email, saying it is “a real estate agent’s role to communicate the state of the market so clients can make a fully informed decision”.
“That is our responsibility,” CEO Jason Andrew told Yahoo News Australia.
“We accept this is an emotional issue and we don't pretend that it isn't, and we are not ambivalent to the needs of our tenants.
“We feel our business has been caught in the crossfire for the state government’s inadequate housing policies.
“The fact is there are not enough houses for people to rent. This is the real issue.”
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