‘BOGAN BLACKLIST’: Landlord messages about tenants exposed
A group of Tasmanian landlords is lobbying the government to wind back rules protecting tenants during the coronavirus pandemic.
Calling itself Landlords Tasmania, the group of 240 local and interstate landlords who own residential properties in Tasmania has written to Premier Peter Gutwein complaining that changes to tenancy rules have been "rushed, disjointed and poorly communicated".
The government has placed a ban on evictions for residential tenants and a freeze on rent increases during the crisis.
But angry landlords have called for a "bogan blacklist" of those who have fallen behind with their rent and others complain that tenants has been made "a protected species" who feel that "the world owes them a living".
One commenter in the group's Facebook forum says: "I can see why some people rent all their lives because they are stupid" and another accuses tenants struggling to pay rent of having an "unreal perspective".
"You are living in someone else's property and wanting to do it for less than agreed. And you feel violated? Just f*** off."
Group convener Louise Elliot said nobody should be surprised that emotions were running high.
"I think you would see significantly worse in a tenants forum," she said of the comments.
"When you feel like the carpet has been pulled out from under you, you can get a bit emotional," she said.
"Landlords are made out to be evil, like Scrooge McDuck. It's really not true.
"We're people too, we're just trying to make decisions so we're not going to have to rely on the government in our retirement.
She said landlords were keen to avoid any extension of protections for tenants and a windback of existing provisions which she said was encouraging some to stop paying rent.
"It's effectively an interest-free, no-application-form loan from me," she said.
"You don't have to prove it relates to COVID, you can just stop paying. you can have a tenant in a house for 120 days not paying rent and you can't do inspections."
She said the government's provisions had been put in place without due thought to the implications for landlords.
"The legislation is so rushed and reactive and spells panic," she said.
"A lease is a contract, someone buying and someone selling. To rip away the fundamentals of that leaves investing unappealing and the government will have to find another 54,000 houses.
"There's nearly 300 people in the Facebook groups that's only been going for a fortnight."
Ms Elliot has written to Premier Peter Gutwein, Attorney-General Elise Archer, Housing Minister Roger Jaesnch and Opposition leader Rebecca White outlining the group's concerns.
Ben Bartl from Tennants Union said he was surprised at the call for a windback of protection for tenants.
"The reality is that Tasmania is now behind a lot of jurisdictions around Australia, to be calling for weaker protections seems puzzling," he said.
"The Prime Minister, for example, has talked about how we're all in this together. Yes, landlords will be affected by this, but so will tenants."
He said many of the protections put in place during the crisis which landlords were unhappy about - such as a ban on property inspections - were for public health reasons
Premier Peter Gutwein said he wasn't aware of the group's campaign.
"I don't believe I've had too much more than a couple of letters from individual landlords," he said.
"In terms of landlords and tenants, it simply makes sense, as we go through these extraordinary circumstances that they work together to get an outcome that will be beneficial to both when we get to the other side."
Labor leader Rebecca White said the government should be bolstering protection for tenants.
"We would be encouraging the government to extend the protections for residential tenants beyond the 30th of June period, which is currently what's in the law, just to make sure that they're not facing the prospect of eviction or other impacts on them at a period when we're still in state of emergency."
Originally published as 'BOGAN BLACKLIST': Secret Tassie landlord group messages about tenants exposed