Think of the landlords

Some people honestly just don’t care. This from the website of TICA – the Tenancy Information Centre Australasia.

Tenants do not deserve the right to impose their habits on innocent landlords by claiming that housing is a human right.

The framers of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights might have a point to make about that:

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

(My emphasis.)

Of course, TICA is trying to justify their service. Landlords can now choose to be automatically notified when their tenants sign another tenancy agreement (with another landlord). Thus, the original landlord knows when their tenants are about to move out.

TICA’s managing director Philip Nounnis justifies it like this:

The service has been designed to cater for that small section of the marketplace that does the dreaded midnight skip and things like that.

They break their existing agreement. They apply to another property. They don’t tell the new agent who they were previously renting through and they get approved without the new agent knowing how much money they previously owe.

This is the general excuse for the existence of TICA’s enormous tenant database, but it doesn’t really cover this new service. The new service has nothing to do with scrutinising potential tenants – it’s about what happens when existing tenants consider moving out. It’s the old landlord that gets notified, not the new one. It’s difficult to see what possible legitimate use this could have.

As Chris Martin of the NSW Tenants Union points out, retaliation is the name of the game. The old landlord might decide not to carry out necessary repairs, or to try to scuttle the new lease agreement by contacting the other, prospective landlord.

This seems to be fundamentally about further entrenching the power relationship between landlords and tenants. TICA is selling other people’s information, benefitting one group by putting another at further disadvantage.

It’s hard to argue that TICA has an especially balanced perspective, when further up the web page there’s this:

We take this opportunity to advise that the TICA systems and its databases are only designed to impact on tenants who believe they have the right to create financial hardship on landlords whose only involvement in the rental arena is to offer affordable accommodation.

Financial hardship? Good grief – we’re talking about people who own at least two houses vs people who don’t own any. Which landlords, exactly, are concerned “only” with offering affordable accommodation? The entire purpose of putting up a property for rent is to make money, and that money is made from those less well off. This is nobody’s fault in particular – just the inevitable result of inevitable wealth imbalances. However, to speak of financial hardship as it applies to people with more wealth is a little, well, rich.

Update (2010-12-13, 2012-06-16): fixed a broken link.