Gender discrimination woes for flat hunters

University of Otago student Stewart Ashton and his flatmates have been told they cannot rent...
University of Otago student Stewart Ashton and his flatmates have been told they cannot rent certain flats next year, because they are male. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
A group of University of Otago students feel as though they are the victims of gender discrimination after their attempts to rent flats in Dunedin were shunned by property owners, on the grounds they are male.

Stewart Ashton said he and his fellow flatmates tried to apply for a flat through a property management company recently, but received a text message saying the owner of the property would only accept "six studious females".

"Several days later, we were at a flat viewing with a different company, looking at two flats as part of a complex.

"We were told not to apply for one because the agent said it was ‘traditionally a girls’ flat, and we’d like to keep it that way’."

Mr Ashton said he and his flatmates were "frustrated", "maddened" and "disappointed" by the situation, because it had made the process of finding a flat much more stressful.

"We thought we were all good and the search was over, only to be maddened and disappointed that because we are five boys we had to keep looking," he said.

He believed it was happening because female students were being "stereotyped" as being cleaner than boys.

"Whether or not that’s true as a trend, it’s prejudicial to assume we are worse tenants due to our gender.

"We should be judged based on our actual reputation as tenants gained over the last year - not due to sexist stereotypes."

He and his flatmates were "good citizens" who had looked after their previous rental properties.

They had not had any noise complaints against them, and had kept their flat to a "reasonable level" of cleanliness.

"We are by no means the stereotypical party flat like you see on Castle St. We have respected our flat, and our [former] landlord agrees.

"Property owners should judge people applying by their references and former landlords, who know the character of those applying — not by what their chromosomes are, but by how they have historically treated property and people.

"Landlords should actually read the applications tenants send, get in touch with their references and make an educated decision from there, rather than taking short cuts and throwing out half your potential customers."

Property Investors’ Association Otago president Kathryn Seque said gender discrimination was illegal and urged students who had experienced it while applying for flats to contact the Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

"It’s highly illegal and it shouldn’t be happening. I would encourage any potential tenants who are facing any sort of discrimination - whether it be gender, race, ethnicity, age, marital status - they should report it."

Female tenants were by no means always perfect, she said. They could be just as bad as male tenants.

"I had a group of girls about five years ago that decided to get up on the roof and repaint it, then leave paint all down the footpath for the council to clean up.

"But in this day and age, people are well aware that you should not and cannot discriminate against anything, and that includes gender and student flats."


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As a landlord to Uni students, I do not deal with an agency.
In all respects to you guys, there is no way I would rent out any of my properties to a male, and yes a few females. I will be honest here. 99% of guys have had mummy do everything for them and have just left home so have no idea how to be a "flat mum". They will have friends visit who regard others property as a place to use.
As for the females, they may be academic, but not good at interviews. In most cases, my interview is the first they have ever had. I ask the hard questions. I speak to their parents, check them out on school websites, facebook etc, ask them where they are going with their studies, are they serious not drifting. You can always tell by how they speak. The nasty or arrogant ones don't like being questioned. Using "like" every 2nd word is a put off.
I mostly advertise around the churches.
I also look after my tenants, repair things quick, drop off food to them, give them concert vouches etc.
I still get Xmas cards from most of my tenants.
I will share one funny thing - a tenant rung me up to see if I could interview a potential boyfriend for her!

I have instructed my agent "No boys next year."
had enough.

You're literally proving this kid's point right. Incredible

I firmly believe the decision should be held by the property owner. This property owner may well have had enough of a certain kind of tenant. My own series of bad tenants happen to be single mothers whom could afford a flash car but never the due rent.

Sorry boys, I had enough, the confidence in boys has run out..... There is nothing related to "gender", it's about the behaviour of boys, personally, it's about my headache.

I had boys tenants, for few years, they cost thousands of dollars to fix, somewhere you just cannot imagine - they took the door off the frame and I found the remains outside of the house, one boy forgot the key, then he ripped off the aluminium window hinges......holes on wall/door; damaged the door frame; party on the roof; smashed the downpipe; smashed beer bottles everywhere, house furniture been thrown out.......

No respect at all.

I have instructed my agent "no boys" next year, I think it's better to say no now than kick them out in the middle of the next year.

Can you actually read what you are saying? "there is nothing related to "gender", it's about the behaviour of boys." You say "it's not about gender" but then literally say it is to do with gender. You are proving this article is correct, and that you willingly participate in this illegal nonsense

DT is grammatically correct.
Being about "gender" is what sex they are born with.
The behaviour of a group (gender) is actually different.

I mean this is not a "gender discrimination" issue like the boy complained, it's all about the boys' behaviours, some girls have the same behaviours issue too, can we say it's a gender issue? we are all human beings.

Over many years managing a family rental the worst 3 were families/couples with 2 males + 1 female, recommended by Presbyterian Support. Groups of 4 second year male students were among the best. Quiet, clean and tidy-ish, did a good clean-up before leaving after 2 years. Made a hole in a wall moving furniture and were so apologetic. They said they would fix it - and they did! Such a good job it looked good as new. Being young, male and new to flatting they had had a long hunt finding a flat.
A friend, an experienced cleaner, worked briefly cleaning flats but quit because of disgust. Her experience was that women's flats were worse than men's, as an example used tampons discarded here and there.
Civilized people are civilized people, is the only rule worth believing. If possible arrange to meet them in their current home to discuss the lease - or change your mind according to how they appear in their own habitat,

Used to clean pubs and I found the lady's toilets were generally the worst to clean, broken glass in the toilets, toilet paper on top then feces on top of that.

Totally agree "Civilized people are civilized people". My best tenant was a boy, and the worst was a girl, she left a pile of rubbish in the middle of her room, and we collected about 30ish all sorted drinking buttles on her bed!

The difference between "bad tenants": the girls mostly are just untidy or unclean, but the boys make damages.

I know a solution, why dont you stop renting to students at all. Then you wouldn't get fed up and be at your limit, Oh wait then you couldn't charge the astronomical rents that you do.

Astronomical rents are based on user pays. The landlord doesn't subside the tenant.
So what makes the cost?? insurances that are high with tenants, rates, accountants fees, costs of writing to tenants via an agency or lawyer, costs of damage, repairs, fixing things tenants break, cleaning, demand from neighbouring landlord to fix damage caused by your tenant, sweeping up broken glass, taking away rubbish, damage, more damage, (can you see a trend here) & sometimes a mortgage to pay.

A common scenario of say $30 grand collected in rent pa can leave a landlord a profit if they lucky of $800. Yup. Not worth it.

Multiple compulsory expenses have been built in now for landlords. Tenants think rent's "astronomical". But landlords are paying huge expenses. Often they are not breaking even - Rent doesn't cover the expenses. The landlords are subsidizing their mortgage from their own wages after paying for all of the new heating, insulation and other legal compliance costs; insurance and rates; frequently unpaid rent; damage done by many tenants (which can be in the tens of thousands of dollars); damage done by pets; meth damage, smoke damage ... It's almost impossible to break even now as a landlord, unless the mortgage is now small.
This isn't a "cry me a river, poor landlords" comment. It is simply stating that tenants often think landlords are scalping them .... No. Landlords are often using their wages to pay necessary tenancy expenses and the full mortgage. Tenants get higher quality living than their landlords. When tenants buy, they can have homes that DON'T tick all the boxes e.g. insulation, grunty heat pump in living room, and everything fitting the tenancy laws. Many homeowners don't have homes that tick all of the expensive legal boxes that tenants' houses now have.

“An illegal, massively prejudiced landlord says what”

DT and GM “What?”

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