‘RentTech’ puts Australian renters’ data at risk

It’s been a tough couple of years for Australian renters, with a shortage of available houses and rental prices skyrocketing. Many older Australians are renters, too, and they have not been spared the pain. Now, a new report from consumer advocacy group CHOICE has highlighted another problem renters face: data risks posed by ‘RentTech’.

What’s more, renters are being forced to pay for the ‘privilege’ of submitting to these RentTech data risks. The findings were made in a national survey of more than 1000 renters and more than 500 landlords.

What is ‘RentTech’?

CHOICE’s report has assigned the umbrella term of RentTech to describe online tools and services used by tenants. These include technology used to search and apply for rental property, make rental payments, and log maintenance and repair requests.

These platforms, a relatively recent development, are developed and managed by a third party, rather than real estate agents themselves. Many renters say they are being forced by agents to use them, exposing their personal data to greater risk.

According to the CHOICE report, released last week, the increased use of RentTech has created four major areas of concern. In broad terms, these are a lack of choice, data insecurity, added costs and invasive technologies.

Many renters, as many as 41 per cent, according to the report, are being pressured by agents into using RentTech. CHOICE consumer data advocate Kate Bower explained that this was happening through lack of options.

“Renters are often given no option but to use RentTech to apply for properties, pay rent, or request repairs,” Ms Bower said. “Our research found two in five people who rent were pressured by an agent or landlord to use a third-party service to apply for a home.”

Is your data at risk?

Being pressured into using RentTech leads to a second major concern – data insecurity. CHOICE’s national survey found that 61 per cent of renters were uncomfortable with the amount and type of data collected.

“If you’ve ever applied for a home to rent, you know it can require huge amounts of personal information,” said Ms Bower. “This includes information such as identity documents, employer and tenancy references, and proof of income.”

What’s more, as many as a quarter of renters were footing the bill for having to use RentTech tools. Additional costs included fees to pay rent, penalties for failed payments, and even the costs of their own background checks.

“Our national survey found one in four renters had paid for a tenancy check,” said Ms Bower. 

The fourth major concern surrounds the potential of RentTech to produce discriminatory results. Ms Bower cited Snug’s use of a ‘Match Score’ to assess tenant suitability as an example.

“A sore lack of regulation in this market means these automated decision-making systems could increase barriers and discrimination for renters, potentially excluding some people from housing,” she said.

As a result of its findings, CHOICE has called on federal and state governments to act on RentTech. The report outlines steps to ensure renters are protected from the risks created by rental technologies.

These include reforming “the Privacy Act to ensure Australia’s privacy laws are up to date and fit for purpose for consumers”.

Also read: Australian rental properties too cold and damp

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


  1. The questions asked by RentTech don’t sound as onerous as those asked by lenders when the owner is trying to purchase property so I can’t see what the problem is. The agent has a responsibility to the owner to make sure a prospective tenant is going to be able to meet the rental payments just as banking staff have responsibility to shareholders to make sure a prospective purchaser can meet mortgage repayments

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