A real estate agent says that people in her profession are often under instructions to discriminate on the basis of age when deciding on tenancy applications.
Agent Priscilla Tiley said age discrimination definitely occurred in the private rental market.
Age discrimination is illegal in Victoria.
But when tenants are chosen “it’s the owner’s decision”, Tiley said. “They have in mind what type of tenant they want and often it’s not youth.”
Her statement confirms a finding by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission that young Victorians are victims of ageism when it comes to renting properties.
A report by the commission cites an investigation into Victoria’s private rental market that has found the second most common reason rental applications fail is the youth of the applicant.
The investigation found that real estate agents and landlords discriminated on the basis of adverse stereotypes about young people, particularly those receiving Centrelink payments.
The report suggested more support structures be put in place to help young people looking for a rental property.
Tiley said what landlords were most influenced by were stereotypes such as a party lifestyle or doubts about the cleanliness of young Australians.
“There are stereotypes, but as real estate agents we do our best to work through it,” she said. “The gender of the applicant can also impact the decision for some landlords.”
Tiley explained that in her experience she had not found young Victorians to be more difficult tenants than their elders and that what mattered more was the individual’s personality.
“There are ways they (young Victorians) can make their application appealing so as to distract from their age.”
Ways of improving their chances of approval included providing documents such as a parent guarantor letter, a character reference from a professional, bank statements and payslips.
Tiley said landlords had the legal right to lease their home to whoever they wished and believed would look after it best.
“At the end of the day, we as agents are just looking for someone to keep the house clean, not cause any trouble, and pay their rent on time,” Tiley said.