Renter blasts 'dodgy' $50 charge from agent: 'This is illegal'

A real estate agent's decision has been deemed 'dodgy' after charging a tenant in a difficult situation.

After her child was admitted to hospital, a Queensland resident understandably cancelled her rental inspection, readjusting prioritises around her unwell daughter.

Despite the valid reason, she promptly received an email from her real estate agent. Baffled by its contents, she took to social media for advice.

"I now get an invoice for $50? Has anyone else had this?" she asked, confused why she had just been slapped with a cancellation fee.

The invoice can be seen charging $50 for cancelling the rental inspection, with the resident's caption on Facebook reading: 'Can anyone help I had to cancel my inspection due to my daughter getting admitted into hospital and I now get an invoice of $50 has anyone else had this? I'm in Queensland'.
The tenant was charged for cancelling her rental inspection, despite the reasonable reason for requesting a reschedule. Source: Facebook/Don't Rent Me (Group)

Despite the "dodgy" practice being condemned online, some admitted they adhered to similar demands from real estate agents in fear they would be evicted amid the ongoing rental crisis, which chokeholds many Aussie cities. One person noted their agent had attempted to charge them $100 for a cancelled inspection.

"These real estates are really doing anything they can to bully people into things they shouldn’t be," one person said in response to the post.

"This is illegal," another stated.

Charge not legal, tenants' union says

And that claim was confirmed by a leading expert, who stated such penalties were not allowed.

"Penalties like this are not legal," Tenants' Union of NSW CEO Leo Patterson Ross told Yahoo News Australia.

"The agent would have to demonstrate that by asking for the inspection to be postponed, the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement, and as a result of the breach the landlord has lost money."

Despite legislation changing between states, he explained the rules are "essentially the same" in regards to this matter.

In both Queensland and NSW, an real estate agent or landlord can enter a rental property to conduct a routine inspection without the tenant's consent, if proper notice is given, and therefore, the tenant has grounds to refuse the payment — especially as they offered a reasonable request for the inspection to be postponed.

"The landlord is attempting to charge a penalty provision. These are banned in Queensland (and NSW) and most other states and territories."

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