The season for empathy – for renters too

Leo Patterson Ross • 14/12/2023

Over the last week, the annual tradition of a real estate agent sending out an email warning their renters not to fall behind in rent over Chistmas was continued, this time by an agency in Victoria.

2023 has been one of the hardest years for so many people, and yet we know people didn't stop paying their rent until they had no other option. We know people went without food, medical care or heating in order to keep a roof over their head.

Every year real estate agents send these messages out, but after this year of record rent rises it is a particularly insensitive move. People who rent their homes are adults and the assumption that they can't make their own decisions says a lot more about the person who sends the email than the person who receives it.

When rent arrears do occur instead of moving to evict, capable property managers would explore negotiated payment plans, support services and even rent reductions. Financially this is usually better for both tenants and landlords. Using the threat of homelessness at Christmas time is a very clear expression of an unequal relationship that is not based in mutual respect but instead relies on heavy-handed control.

Landlords should consider whether their agency is acting in a way that reflects the landlord's own values especially over this holiday period, and whether they are contributing to an Australia that is based on taking care of everyone in the community.

But we can have hope. We should remember that even Scrooge woke up on Christmas Day with a very different attitude – one that recognised the value of generosity, empathy and kindness.

Renters who are facing financial difficulties at the moment should first understand that this broken system is not a reflection on them – no one should have to face the difficult choice of feeding their family or keeping a roof over their head and yet that is the situation for a growing number of people.

Secondly there is support available such as the National Debt Helpline or for advice about arrears or evictions, get in touch with your local Tenant Advocates all across Australia.

    For more on the story, check out:


    @purplepingers Professionals group are literally a huge international real estate agency and theyre all cooked. #shitrentals ♬ original sound - Jordie van den Berg