ACT Labor MLA Michael Pettersson is introducing a motion to the Legislative Assembly to allow renters to legally request a landlord reference before leasing a property.
The motion was weirdly inspired by a TikTok video by Australian comedian Tom Cashman.
He explained to his followers back in January that he ran into a peculiar situation after asking a real estate company for a reference from a previous tenant for the landlord of the property he had been approved to rent.
In his video, Cashman showed the email exchange between him and an agent, which showed he had to wait for days before hearing they weren't able to get the reference.
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
Cashman sent a follow-up email, to which the agent 'Stephanie' refused to send through a reference and blacklisted him from the property, withdrawing his application.
Stephanie cited that the application was denied because the owner was looking for a 'long term lease period'; however, Cashman stated his short term lease period wasn't a problem when he initially applied.
He said in the video: "Interestingly enough, this was not an issue when I originally applied and got approved.
"So in conclusion, I think asking for a landlord reference is a good idea, and if we all start doing it, it could become more normalised."
The TikTok video, entitled 'Everyone start asking for Landlord References' has accumulated two million views, with Cashman continuing to document his journey on social media requesting landlord references.
Cashman said he was prompted to ask for a reference after dealing with his fair share of terrible landlords who exploited him as a tenant.
He told ABC RN Breakfast radio: I've had pretty bad experiences with landlords generally, mainly around bonds," he said.
"I've been charged $100 for a 'pest investigation'. I asked for evidence and got sent a picture of four ants on the kitchen bench."
He then went on to say that the owners threw a 'hissy fit' when asked to supply evidence, something which tenants always provide.
So now it looks like Mr Cashman's 'cheeky' request could be enshrined into law.
Labor's MLA Michael Pettersson told ABC News that after watching Tom's video he wanted to ensure Canberrans living in rental properties could secure a good landlord, and it's 'unfair' that only landlords are permitted to conduct background checks.
He hopes his proposed bill will fix the 'power imbalance' between the landlord and tenant.
"Landlords know everything about a tenant; they know their income, employment, rental history and personal references," he said.
"Tenants don't know anything about their landlord and, importantly, they don't know anything about their treatment of previous tenants. It's unfair.
"This is a simple change that will help address the power imbalance that exists between landlords and tenants."
Featured Image Credit: Tom Cashman/TikTok. Alamy
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