Melbourne real estate agency Woodards Croydon sparks outrage after making ‘tone deaf’ request to a renter

An Australian renter has shared the ‘tone deaf’ email they received from their real estate agent asking them to donate their $300 energy rebate to their fundraiser.

The angry Melbourne tenant shared the email from Woodards Croydon Rentals on Saturday.

The email detailed the agent’s plan to participate in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, which raises money for rough sleepers, and asked tenants to donate.

Further infuriating the tenant, the email highlighted the $300 energy rebate every household around Australia will receive as money that could be donated.

The rebate will not be delivered in cash, but will be provided as a quarterly discount on energy bills, paid directly to the provider. 

The furious Melbourne tenant shared the email from Woodards Croydon Rentals (pictured) on Saturday which asked them to donate their $300 energy rebate

‘I’m reaching out to you with a heartfelt request to support my participation in the 2024 Vinnies CEO Sleepout,’ the real estate agent wrote.

‘As you may already know, this initiative aims to raise awareness and crucial funds to combat homelessness in our community. 

‘With the recent announcement of the Federal Budget’s cost-of-living relief, which includes a $300 rebate on energy bills for all Australian households, I’ve been reflecting on the privilege many of us have and the opportunity to make a real difference. 

‘While this rebate offers a welcome reprieve to many facing financial challenges, it’s important to recognise that not everyone is fortunate enough to have a roof over their head.’

The agent then asked tenants to ‘join me in paying it forward by donating your rebate’.

‘Just imagine, a $300 contribution can help relocate someone sleeping rough to accommodation services, providing them with safety, support, and hope for a better future,’ they said.

‘Together, we can make a tangible difference in the lives of those in need. 

‘So, if you’re in a position to do so, I kindly ask you to consider making a donation to support this important cause. Thank you for your generosity and compassion. 

‘Let’s come together to create positive change and build a brighter future for our community.’

The $300 energy rebate was announced in the Federal Budget in May in response to the cost-of-living crisis.

From July 1, all households will see a $300 credit automatically applied to their electricity bills and one million small businesses will receive $325 off their bills.

Energy companies will apply $75 credits to each quarterly power bill under the rebate scheme 

The receiver of the email was left stunned by the request and questioned why it was sent to the agency’s tenants instead of landlords.

The agent then asked tenants to 'join me in paying it forward by donating your rebate' (stock image of a homeless person on a park bench)

The agent then asked tenants to ‘join me in paying it forward by donating your rebate’ (stock image of a homeless person on a park bench)

‘My real estate want ME to give money so people can afford to live in a house,’ they wrote on Reddit.

‘The sheer audacity and tone deaf request that a renter, not a property owner, be asked to give their money because property is unaffordable for other people.

‘In this climate of unaffordable housing which is cause by real estates, this is a slap in the face.’

The tenant described the email as a ‘tone deaf plea for money’.

‘How dare the peasants be given any reprieve or handouts, we should ask for them to donate that, even though they themselves could be at risk of homelessness,’ they said.

‘Here is a better idea, keep housing at an affordable cost so people don’t become homeless in the first place.’ 

Woodards CEO Nigel O’Neil told Daily Mail Australia the agency has a long history of participating in the CEO Sleepout.

‘Woodards has been participating in the CEO Sleepout since 2017 and since then we have raised just over $713k, which has been used to purchase 8 soup vans and directly provided 921,347 meals for people in need,’ he said.

‘For the past two years, we have been the number one fundraising team in Victoria and second nationally.

‘In addition, a percentage of every Woodards sales commission and every leasing fee is donated to our Foundation where it’s distributed to organisations who assist Victorians who are homeless. 

‘We are committed about helping provide housing and support to the most vulnerable members of our community.’

As for why the email was sent to tenants, Mr O’Neil said: ‘This year, as per the past eight years, directors, employees and business partners have been participating in the CEO Sleepout. 

‘Participants reach out to all contacts for donations, as in this case. 

‘We can appreciate that not everyone is in the position to donate, but if you can, it’s a great cause, as everyone deserves the fundamental needs, such as shelter and food.’

Several commenters recommended the tenant send the email to the agency’s head or a governing body, like Consumer Affairs Victoria.

The agent then asked tenants to 'join me in paying it forward by donating your rebate', a request which was slammed as 'tone deaf'

The agent then asked tenants to ‘join me in paying it forward by donating your rebate’, a request which was slammed as ‘tone deaf’

‘Forward the email to the principal of the agency telling them you are not sure why you are receiving this email. Emphasise that you are concerned that someone has hacked their data and ask if it is a scam,’ one wrote.

Another added: ‘Mention and highlight the silliness of it. ‘Surely asking people who don’t own homes, to donate to people who don’t own homes, was a mistake? Shouldn’t this have been emailed to the people who own multiple houses?’.’

A third said: ‘Was there any mention in the lease, residential tenancy act or consumer law about using your contact details for marketing? Might be worth contacting the tenants union or Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.’

Others said they needed to keep the rebate for themselves and were surprised the real estate agent mentioned the relief package. 

‘Your energy rebate is none of their damn business,’ one said.

‘What a tone deaf letter. I always try not to judge people but I really struggle with real estate agents. So many slimy pricks in that industry,’ another wrote.

‘They can f**k right off. How about they take a cut from their PROFITS to donate. Selfish, greedy bastards,’ another said.