Aussies warned over third-party rental platforms

Aussies are being warned about the risks of third-party rental platforms such as 2Apply and Snug, as the rent crisis rages on.

New research from CHOICE revealed more than 40 per cent of renters had been pressured to use ‘RentTech’ platforms when applying for a home. Despite this, nearly two-thirds (60 per cent) said they were uncomfortable with the amount of private information required.

Renters are often expected to hand over information including identity documents (such as passports and driver’s licences), employer and tenancy references, and proof of income.

Almost a third (29 per cent) of the 1,020 renters surveyed said they had decided not to apply for a rental because they didn’t trust the third-party platform.

CHOICE is calling for reform of the Privacy Act to ensure renters are protected from the risks of third-party rental platforms.

“RentTech platforms are being used to collect and store even more data than traditional methods, such as online forms hosted by real estate agencies. This leaves this highly personal information prone to data breaches, along with the potential for it to be used in ways that have nothing to do with providing accommodation,” CHOICE consumer data advocate Kate Bower said.

Renters are also being slugged with extra costs, with a quarter of those surveyed saying they paid for a tenancy check to help improve their application.

“Third-party rental platforms are for-profit businesses, which often force or pressure tenants to pay additional fees, including fees to pay rent, penalties for failed payments, and even the costs of their own background checks,” Bower said.

Among young renters aged 18-34, 21 per cent reported a tenant score was used as part of their applicant assessment.

“Snug, for example, produces a ‘Match Score’ for rental applicants, which uses the personal information submitted by a renter to indicate their suitability for particular properties,” Bower explained.

She added that lack of regulation in this space meant some people could be excluded from housing.


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