Page 530 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022
So they go and they have a chat to the bank and they realise that there is all of this essentially fake money. Nobody earnt it; it is not real. The market, in its magic, has gifted it to a property owner through the peaks and troughs—or what has mostly been peaks—of owning residential real estate in this city. So they go out and they buy a property. Good on them. No-one is saying that that is a bad thing. It should be encouraged; it creates supply for those who want or need to rent.
But we do need to shift the cultural conversation in our city—and, I believe, across our country—about this inherent right to use mythical, fake money to buy homes that you are then able to “gift”, as I have heard some phrase it, to other people, I am not sure that giving up 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 per cent of your household income each week for a roof over your head is necessarily a gift, but it is how I have heard it articulated by some.
It broke my heart over the years, particularly my last few years in real estate, prior to my election in this place, when you really saw the market take off. What was a healthy and manageable level of competition between landlords and renters, or between prospective tenants for available property, has become a completely untenable, unmanageable situation.
Prior to the introduction of the legislation Mr Pettersson referred to in his contribution about outlawing rent bidding, I cannot tell you how many times I stood, as a rental agent, on the other side of a kitchen bench in one of those tiny, 15-minute open homes where people are just trekking in in tens, twenties and thirties. I can still remember one particular incident at a home in Macgregor that very nearly became violent as two prospective tenants verbally chose to outbid each other, while completing their rental application bent over the kitchen bench right in front of me. These are real stories.
As long as I am sharing real stories with members of the house, let me tell you about a few real stories that I experienced as a property manager—yes, working for landlords. There are good ones. I do not want to pretend that there are not good ones. I can still remember one particular landlord I had when I worked at an agency at Belconnen who lived three streets away from his investment property. He rented it out to a lovely young woman, a single mother. Upon meeting her at the first inspection, they had brokered a little deal with each other, because he was semi-retired, that he would come over every week and mow the lawns, as long as it was at a particular time. It was a perfectly good arrangement. That is a really good example of how some people understand the inherent privilege that it is to own residential real estate and their responsibility to provide a safe, clean, accessible home to the market and then to their tenant, with whom they now have a contractual relationship.
I can equally tell you, Madam Speaker, about a number of deeply troubling occasions where I had the misfortune of working for unscrupulous landlords, slumlords, who should be purged from the market, who should not be able to own residential real estate and hold homes over the heads of their tenants. I can still remember one situation very early on in my real estate career, when I was even younger than this—much more pimply-faced, Madam Speaker! It would have been the third or fourth landlord I had the experience of working for who said to me, “Rent it to anyone you