Legislative Council: Thursday, November 03, 2022


Renter Background Checks

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:41): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to a minister in this place, the Attorney-General, on the topic of renter background checks.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: This morning, the ABC reported that renters are being told that they must pay for background checks when applying for rental properties. In the case of the 2Apply third-party app renters are required to use to provide background information, the ABC reports that their form asks for extensive private information, including the model of their car. The ABC further claims that renters are being told their star rating as an applicant would be capped at four out of five stars if they do not pay for their own background check.

Landlords and estate agencies are increasingly turning to third-party organisations, such as 2Apply and Equifax, for these background checks. 2Apply's terms and conditions, available on their website, describe these payments and features of the platform, claiming: 'From time to time, the interface may offer additional features for a fee. These features will be labelled as "paid".' Renters are not required to pay for these features, but they cannot achieve a five-star rating without them.

My question to the Attorney-General therefore is: does the government consider it unreasonable for renters to have to pay to receive a five-star rating when applying for a home? What is the government doing to ensure people are fairly treated by these third-party organisations?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:42): I thank the honourable member for his question and his regular interest and advocacy in the area of the rights of consumers, particularly renters and rental affordability.

A lot of what the honourable member is asking will fall within the purview of my colleague, the Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs, but also I think there are elements that pertain to privacy for individuals and how information is used that comes into my portfolio area. I don't have any information on this and I haven't heard of this before but, to protect individuals, it is something I am happy to look into.

I am happy to work with my colleague, the Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs, to understand what the situation is in South Australia if potential renters are being unfairly treated because of a requirement to pay money to obtain a certain rating on a report to have a preferential go at obtaining a rental. I will be happy to bring back a reply to the honourable member. This may take a little bit of time, but it is an important issue and I am very happy to look into it.