Melbourne Employer Claims Real Estate Agent Asked "Invasive" Questions

Melbourne Employer Claims Real Estate Agent Asked “Invasive” Questions

The employer is calling for prospective tenants’ rights to be better protected.

Melbourne employer Luke Hilakari is calling out real estate agents for asking invasive and irrelevant questions about one of his staff members.

Hilakari, secretary for The Victorian Trades Hall in Melbourne, says that he was contacted by an agent who asked him to fill in a referee check for a prospective tenant, reports The Guardian. While the form included questions about income and probation status, Hilakari was also asked questions like “would you consider renting to this person?” along with queries as to whether the staff member was hard-working and punctual.

“These questions are deliberately and unnecessarily invasive,” Hilakari said, per The Guardian “In a reference check for someone getting a job you wouldn’t ask that many questions. “[They] are completely unnecessary to renting a house.”

Hilakari posted his experience on Twitter.

The employer is calling for changes to Victoria’s Residential Tenancy Act to prohibit real estate agents and landlords from requesting applicant information that is really none of their business.

While amendments were made to the Residential Tenancy Act in Victoria in March 2021, and certain requests for information were regulated; Including marriage status, sexual orientation, and former tenancy disputes, Hilakari’s experience had shed light on the many invasions of privacy that are still going on unchecked.

In reply to Hilakari’s tweet, one Twitter user wrote: “Before even inspecting a property I had to do a full tenancy application including 100 point check, payslips, employment check, car rego, etc. They now have my data and the property wasn’t suitable.”

“It’s not even them”, another person added. “They hand it off to third party aggregator sites. Gives the agent’s plausible deniability for hacks and leaks and an extra revenue stream from kickbacks when the aggregators onsell the data — to credit agents, to harvesters, to insurers.”

Hilakari indicated that he ended up acquiescing to the request as he was concerned his staffer would be denied the property if he didn’t. “[I] did not want to provide one bit of data, but I felt like I had no choice,” he said. “[The employee] was worried, and I was worried, that if I didn’t answer [they] wouldn’t get the property.”

The story comes after news that Australian rent prices have gone up more than 70 percent in the last 12 months due to a scarcity of vacant properties.

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