Renter claims tenancy application rejected for being “fat”, agency denies claim

Renter claims tenancy application rejected for being “fat”, agency denies claim
Renter claims tenancy application rejected for being “fat”, agency denies claim

Koongal, Queenslander renter Joel Adams recently went to Queensland’s The Morning Bulletin saying that a Rockhampton real estate agency denied his tenancy application “because I am fat”.

The agency has since responded, although not identified by The Bulletin, quoted as saying they acted appropriately and the reasons for not approving his application had nothing to do with his weight.

Fifty-three year old Adams contests that the agent called him after he went to a Park Avenue open home inspection earlier this month saying that he would have trouble with the cleaning due to his size.

He said the agent told him he would have a similar problem with other real estate agents in Rockhampton.

Considering that three in five Australian adults are classified overweight or obese based on their BMI, or more than 12 million people, Property Observer suggests that property managers may find tenants thin on the ground if they start holding them to weight standards. Monash University suggests that by 2025, this figure could be close to 80% of Australians.

In remote and outer regional areas, this number shoots up by more than 30% compared to the cities, according to the Government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Late last year The Morning Bulletin reported themselves that Central Queensland (Gladstone/Rockhampton) is one of the regions with the highest obesity rate – at 39% as recorded for 2011/2012.

Property managers and investors must abide by the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) that warns against unlawfully discriminating based on a personal attribute.

Tenants have the right to contact the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland (ACDQ) if they believe they have been discriminated against unlawfully.

Not all discrimination is against the law, even if it unfair, explains the ADCQ.

Discriminating based on the following is certainly against the law:

  • Family responsibilities

  • Sexuality

  • Gender identity

  • Sex (whether they are female or male)

  • Relationship or parental status (whether they are married, single, widowed, divorced, separated or living with someone as if they were married (de facto, including same sex de facto), and whether they have children or not)

  • Race

  • Age (whether they are young or old)

  • Impairment (whether they have or have had a physical, intellectual, psychiatric or mental disability, injury or illness, including whether they are HIV+, or use a guide dog, wheelchair or some other remedial device)

  • Religious belief or activity

  • Political belief or activity

  • Trade union activity

  • Lawful sexual activity (a lawfully employed sex worker)

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding

  • Association with or relation to someone who has any of these listed attributes or personal characteristics

“Real estate and property agents have the right to select the most appropriate tenant or purchaser provided that the decision is not based on unlawful discrimination. Tenants, potential tenants and property buyers should be assessed on their individual merits rather than on the basis of bias or prejudice. Unfair assumptions about people because of their age, sex, race, parental status etc can result in unlawful discrimination. Real estate agents and property owners therefore have the right to select a tenant primarily on the basis of the tenant’s ability to fulfil basic tenancy responsibilities such as paying the rent on time and maintaining the premises,” notes the ADCQ.

For more information, you can read a booklet from the ADCQ here.

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke was a property writer at Property Observer


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