ACT Labor MLA Michael Pettersson has introduced a motion to the Legislative Assembly in Canberra which would enable prospective renters to ask for a landlord reference, all thanks to a viral TikTok video.
Tom Cashman (@tom.cashman) noted how prospective tenants are typically required to give references so the landlord can get an idea of who will be living in their property and their character and Tom wanted to get a sense of who he would be renting from so contacted the estate agent to ask if the landlord could prove the same thing in order to see how responsive they are and if they sufficiently maintain their property.
In the TikTok, Cashman noted his request was initially ignored but then detailed the back-and-forth between him which eventually ended in him being told the landlord wasn't required to give a reference, and just minutes after this exchange, someone had withdrawn his rent application.
Though Cashman's saga didn't end there as he then updated followers that when sorting out the paperwork for different property he was preparing to move into, the real estate agent had obviously seen his viral video and asked him if he wanted a landlord reference which Cashman laughed off.
After getting the email through to confirm he had been approved for the place, the comedian got another email just hours later which read: "Strange turn of events, the owner has decided not to proceed with your application."
Luckily, Cashman managed to find a place in the end but the viral videos have since put a spotlight on rental rights, with landlords being able to access a wealth of information on prospective tenants, but tenants don't know any of these details about their landlord which is what Pettersson hopes the motion could address.
"I’m a renter myself and I would like the ability to provide information to future tenants about my experience with the landlord. I saw the idea suggested by comedian Tom Cashman on TikTok and I could immediately see the benefits for Canberra renters,” Pettersson said, ABC AU reported.
“Landlords know everything about a tenant; they know their income, employment, rental history and personal references. Tenants don’t know anything about their landlord and, importantly, they don’t know anything about their treatment of previous tenants. It’s unfair.
“The motion also calls for the ACT Government to reaffirm its ongoing commitments to protecting the rights of renters in the Territory. This is a simple change that will help address the power imbalance that exists between landlords and tenants.”
However, not everyone is a fan of the idea as ACT Liberal MLA Mark Parton slammed the motion as a "joke".
"At such a time that our housing crisis, with a rental vacancy rate of 0.4 per cent, when people are sleeping in their cars and leaving town, this is the best that Mr Pettersson can come up with?
"This is rubbish. It's based on a Tom Cashman joke online, and I'm just staggered that we are going to be in the chamber debating this."
The motion is set to be debated later this week by the Legislative Assembly.
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