‘Tried the caravan park?’ Shock over real estate’s letter
A South Burnett family is outraged after receiving a letter from a real estate agency in the region saying it would be "easier" for the family to move since their daughter was in hospital and that they should try other avenues such as caravan parks for a wheelchair-bound family member.
Ty Irvine, 48, of Maidenwell, said his family of four had rented the home for two years but were recently notified they had to move out by March 23 so the owner could sell the house.
He said he had asked the real estate agency for an extension as it was difficult to find a house suitable for his wife Kelly, 45, who uses a wheelchair as she was born with cerebral palsy.
"We replied saying we were struggling and having trouble finding somewhere … as it's extremely difficult to find a house that's wheelchair accessible," he said.
"Then we received this nasty email today."
The letter first states the owner is concerned the family will not be able to vacate in time.
The regional agency, who the Courier Mail have chosen not to name, then goes on to suggest alternative arrangements for three of the four tenants.
"I believe your daughter is back in hospital again? If so, then it should be easier to find a property, being there is just the three of you."
"I understand you need a property with wheelchair access for Kelly, but I think you will find services such as CTC and Blue Care can arrange for ramps to be put in place for wheelchair access, even if not available at the property.
"If not, have you tried the Caravan parks, they also have cabins and we have storage containers if needed to store your belongings (sic)."
A copy of the letter shared in a private Facebook group for renters immediately drew shock and outrage from hundreds of people, including Anjie Kortman.
"That is the most disgusting email I've ever read …," she wrote.
"Please seek legal advice or your nearest consumer affairs for your course of action …."
Ethan Joel asked if the email was a joke.
"What the actual f--K, this has to be a joke?" he said.
Several group members labelled the letter 'disgusting,' 'heartless' and 'disgraceful.'
"The part asking about your daughter being in hospital so it would be easier for your three to find a house … was extremely rude and heartless. I'm speechless about that bit," Angela Austin wrote.
"The big about moving to a caravan park and using a … shed for your belongings is disgusting and a joke."
Caroline 'Caz' Abrahams said she could not believe the insensitivity.
"I can't believe the insensitivity of the issues they so casually brought up and 'solved' for you!," she said.
"And suggesting a caravan park for a person with a disability requiring a wheelchair, absolutely incredible … I'm seriously shaking my head in disbelief."
The couple, who have a teenage son and daughter, also allege they electronically signed a periodic lease in November but were told today that they had "signed it wrong so we've got no lease."
An employee at the agency declined to comment when reached by phone.
"Oh I'm sorry I can't comment on that, if you'd like to speak to someone you'd have to call my principle, bye," the employee said.
Voicemails left on the principal's mobile phone by the Courier Mail are yet to be returned.
There is no indication the property owner was aware of the letter.
The owners of the real estate agency issued a written statement, however, and said "appropriate and professional communication methods when dealing wth tenants" had now been discussed with all staff member.
"The real estate agency was disappointed to learn of the contents of an email that was sent to a tenant on 11 February 2021," the statement said.
"The owner of the real estate agency has been in contact with the tenant directly and apologised on behalf of the business.
"The owner is now working with the tenant directly to provide as much support as possible and ensure a smooth transition to a suitable property, within the next six weeks of their current tenancy period."
Data released by the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) in January indicated there was a shortage of rental properties with less than one per cent of stock available across the majority of the state.
The data revealed rental properties in regional areas were just as scarce, with 0.4 per cent availability in Bundaberg and 0.7 per cent in Toowoomba, Mackay and Townsville.
There was just 0.3 per cent of rental properties on the market on the Sunshine Coast and a 0.7 per cent on the Gold Coast, with many rental agencies now having large waiting lists.
Originally published as 'Tried the caravan park?' Shock over real estate's nasty letter