Have you heard the one about the renter who asked his landlord for a reference?
While hunting for a new rental home, comedian and would-be-tenant Tom Cashman boldly asked a potential landlord for their reference – and caused a social media sensation when he made a video about the unusual request.
In his own mind, Cashman, who lives in Sydney, wanted some answers to key questions that interested him as a renter when he requested a ‘landlord reference’ from a past tenant, via the agent, for a property he was considering renting.
‘Are you [the landlord] a good guy? Are you going to fix stuff? Are you going to reply to my emails, or are you just going to ignore me once I’m in there?’
Update on my request for a Landlord Reference. You can probably guess how it went. pic.twitter.com/I12OkWyEVe
— Tom Cashman (@_tomcashman) February 1, 2022
While the comedian scored heaps of media mentions for his idea, from appearances on Domain to ABC Radio National and The Project, it’s important to know the rental laws here in Victoria makes no mention of obtaining personal references either for the good conduct of the landlord – or for the tenant.
Georga Wootton, one of Tenants Victoria’s lawyers, says: ‘The Residential Tenancies Act, which set the rules for renting in our state, doesn’t address the issue of obtaining references at all. It’s silent on this topic. It’s just become fairly standard practice to obtain a reference from a prospective tenant, but I haven’t come across it in reverse.’
Jennifer Beveridge, CEO of Tenants Victoria, says she welcomes the interest in the topic of the ‘landlord reference’ as it reflects greater interest in the issues of the rights of renters, a growing group in our community.
‘It’s an idea worth exploring,’ she says. ‘It would be interesting to see the “landlord reference” become a trend as the power between the landlord and the renter evens up. Recent changes to Victoria’s rental laws have certainly improved renters’ rights under the letter of the law, but there’s scope for much more change in terms of the attitudes of real estate agents. We also need more effective enforcement of the laws relating to rental providers and landlords who breach renting rules.’
Victoria now has a new non-compliance register for bad landlords (who are also called rental providers). So far 5 are listed.
For more information on your rights as a renter check out our comprehensive information on our website.
Catch up on Tom’s rental quest.
(Video credit: Tom Cashman)