Your Landlord Might Be Checking Your Social Media To See If You’re ‘Damaging’ Their Reputation

Property managers are actively checking if tenants have complained about their landlord or real estate agent on social media, and it could be a deciding factor in getting a house.

A reference form intended for landlords asked if the tenants have “been known to post comments on social media that could damage the landlord or agent’s reputation”.

The form was hosted by third-party platform 2Apply. A spokesman for Inspect Real Estate, which owns 2Apply, told The Age that all questions on the form are set by the leasing agency.

They said the platform used to ask tenants to list their social media accounts, but no longer does this.

A screenshot of the form was shared to Twitter by Jordan van den Berg, a lawyer who runs the series ‘Shit Rentals’ in which he calls out landlords and real estate agents who have neglected their rental properties.

“I’m seeing this more and more, real estate agencies are sending reference requests asking about whether the prospective tenant has used social media to tell their story,” he said.

“This question should not be allowed in a reference check. It’s not the social media posts that are damaging the landlords reputation, it’s the actions of the landlords themselves.”

Van den Berg had also recently combed through thousands of members of the Don’t Rent Me Facebook group and found dozens of real estate agents had joined.

The group is intended for tenants to share stories about their rental properties and seek help from other tenants without fear of repercussion.

Real Estate Institute of Australia president Leanne Pilkington told The Age it had become common practice for property managers to ask if tenants had posted online.

“It must be agents that have had a bad experience with being trashed online,” she said.

“It was a surprise to me, but both of the property managers I’ve spoken to are aware that it can be asked.”

Van den Berg said that although such questions were probably not illegal, it was time to remove them and introduce standardised and regulated reference checks.