Renters desperate to find a home claim they’ve been continually squeezed out of the market by invited ‘bidding’ despite being outlawed.
Last year, the New South Wales Government banned real estate agents from inviting potential renters to bid on rental properties in response to the state’s housing crisis.
The move was followed in June this year by a further crackdown preventing third parties and landlords from encouraging people to submit higher weekly rent offers to get ahead of other prospective tenants.
Under the new rules, agents and landlords must advertise a fixed rental rate for all properties.
However, Tenants Union NSW claims agents are still putting ‘significant pressure’ on renters to offer more than the advertised rent.
The Tenants Union NSW claims real estate agents around the state are illegally pushing potential tenants to engage in rental bidding wars
‘This pressure is placed in a number of ways, including unfortunately some agents and landlords’ continued behaviour in “soliciting” in breach of the regulations,’ the union’s Policy and Advocacy Manager Jemima Mowbray told Nine News.
‘Renters report they feel conflicted – they can’t necessarily afford a higher rent and feel they’ve wasted their time when it becomes clear they’ve missed out to someone who offered more.’
NSW Fair Trading confirmed it has issued $26,950 worth of fines to agents for breaking advertising restrictions following a ‘rent bidding compliance campaign’.
Three agents are currently being investigated for allegedly pushing possible tenants to offer more than the advertised weekly rent.
It is understood NSW Fair Trading began enforcing the new rules in March with 51 penalty infringement notices worth $54,450 issued for related breaches.
The watchdog is also monitoring private advertising platforms, like Gumtree, to ensure landlords are following advertising requirements.
NSW rental commissioner Trina Jones said she has joined the team monitoring landlords and agents around the state.
NSW Fair Trading has fined agents a total of $26,950 for encouraging tenants to pay more than the advertised weekly rent
‘This includes a dedicated compliance campaign involving over 250 inspections that resulted in 76 penalty infringement notices,’ she said.
‘I would strongly encourage anyone who witnesses agents soliciting offers to contact Fair Trading so we can continue our work to ensure renting is fair in NSW.’
The maximum penalty for breaching the new laws is a fine worth $5,500 for an individual and $11,000 in all other cases.