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Rent auctions immoral but not illegal.



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The Hon SUSSAN LEY MP Federal Member for Farrer

Shadow Minister for Housing Shadow Minister for Women

22 August 2008

MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release

Rent auctions immoral but not illegal

Rent auctions are not illegal, but they should be according to Shadow Minister for Housing Sussan Ley.

Ms Ley said that rent auctions are highly unconscionable and more needs to be done to protect consumers.

“Whilst I was on a housing tour in Sydney, where the rental vacancy rate is 1.2%, I was told of instances that could only be described as racketeering,” she said.

"People desperate to rent single, clearly sub standard rooms, were turning up with six months rent in cash, in advance.

“Others are being forced into a bidding war, or being forced to sign up for accommodation they cannot possibly afford and some "landlords" are renting out single rooms to whole families,” she said.

“The poor and vulnerable are suffering the most with this crisis in private rental accommodation,” Ms Ley said.

Ms Ley commended efforts made by the Real Estate Institute that ban the practice of rent auctions but said unfortunately housing industry guidelines do not make it a criminal offence.

“People looking to rent a home are at risk of being coerced into paying more rent than required, especially in our capital cities where there is a greater demand for rental properties,” she said.

“I am calling on the state governments to take action and introduce legislation sooner rather than later to combat this appalling practice.

“The state governments have turned a blind eye to rent auctions and as demand for housing grows, it is imperative that we protect consumers and tenants,” Ms Ley said.

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Media contact: Georgina Wilson (02) 60213264 0428 213264 georgina.wilson@aph.gov.au