‘Dystopian’: Outrage at call to tip your landlord

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Renters around the globe have reacted with fury after a viral video suggested tenants should be tipping their landlords – during a cost of living and rental crisis.

In recent days, social media users have collectively lost their minds after two real estate influencers shared a clip on TikTok about why renters should tip their landlords. And yes, you read that right.

The video was created by US duo Matthew Tortoriello and Kevin Shippee, who run the popular @twoguystakeonrealestate TikTok account.

In the skit, one man, who represents the landlord, stands behind a counter in front of a payment tablet – similar to what you see in cafes and restaurants – that comes with an automatic prompt for tipping, while another, posing as a tenant, is stunned by the suggestion, declaring: “A tip? I’m not tipping my landlord!”

“So you’ll tip a barista who pours overpriced coffee into a cup but not the guy whose on call 24/7 to make sure you have a safe home?” the “landlord” replies.

“I’m not tipping you, this isn’t a restaurant,” the renter insists.

“OK, so you’ll tip an extra 25 per cent for somebody to carry you a basket of chicken wings, but you won’t tip someone who responds for after hours emergency calls?” the landlord says, before ending the video by suggesting he will simply up the rent anyway and recoup the tip that way.

The video has gone viral on social media. Picture: TikTokThe video has gone viral on social media. Picture: TikTok

“I guess when it’s time for your lease renewal, I’m going to make sure gratuity is included in the rent. That’s a little tip I learnt from Two Guys Take On Real Estate,” he said.

Naturally, social media users have erupted, with the suggestion being variously described as “dystopian” and an example of “blackmail”.

And while nobody seems to be able to make their minds up as to whether the video is a satire or not, it hasn’t stopped countless furious comments being shared online.

“Gonna tell my landlord he has to tip me 50 per cent for keeping his property safe and secured as bodyguard work is not free or expected,” one person sarcastically wrote.

“ … only for the landlord to not give you your deposit back over one small mark on the wall,” another said.

“My landlord isn’t on call 24/7, nor does he care about the living conditions of HIS investment. So no, no I won’t,” another said, while another added that “baristas offer a service and landlords exploit people who can’t afford to be homeowners”.

The video sparked a hilarious response from Aussie Jordie van den Berg – a popular Aussie TikTok reviewer of rental properties who is behind the “‘Sh*t rentals of Melbourne” account.

“So you’ll tip your barista for making you a coffee but you won’t tip your landlord for like never answering the phone or responding to any emails or like doing anything when the house explodes or like raising your rent 48 times a year,” he deadpans in a parody clip.

“First thing’s first, I don’t think I’ve ever tipped a barista in Australia like ever, also I’m not tipping you for providing me with a human right like if I see someone in the street with a gun, I’m not going to give them a tip for not shooting me,” he said, pointing out the ridiculousness of the original suggestion, especially in an Australian context.

The video is especially galling given a rental housing shortage is currently squeezing the nation, with countless Aussies coming forward with tales of excessive overnight rental price hikes in recent months, leaving them with no choice but to cough up the absurd amount of cash, or risk being left essentially homeless.

Finance expert and founder of news source Balanced News Summary Christopher William told news.com.au Australia “doesn’t have a well-established tradition of tipping landlords, and tipping isn’t typically anticipated or needed in this situation”.

Sydney's rental crisis has reached new heights as renters complain of unfair price hikes. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Jeremy PiperSydney’s rental crisis has reached new heights as renters complain of unfair price hikes. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Jeremy Piper

“While it is true that landlords must maintain the property and make sure it complies with safety and health regulations, these obligations are already covered by the rent that tenants are required to pay,” he explained.

“When someone goes above and above the call of duty or provides great service, certain cultures view tipping as a method to express thanks and appreciation. But, in the case of renting a house, gratuities could not always offer the renter any real advantages.

“A renter may want to show their gratitude in other ways, such as by publishing a favourable review or sending a thankyou card, if they believe their landlord has gone above and beyond in delivering service.

“In the end, the decision to tip is a personal one, therefore it’s crucial to take into account your finances and make sure it’s within your means.”

Real estate consultant Chris Bellesini from Win Win Property told news.com.au he also didn’t believe in tipping landlords.

“I think a more appropriate way to reward them is to go over and above in looking after the house,” he said.

“Rather than calling them out for a small non-urgent job, pay to fix it yourself. For example, if a door handle breaks, you may be able to get one for $30 at the hardware store and install it yourself.

“It is having mutual respect for the rental arrangement as you are effectively in business together.”

A long line of people waiting to inspect rental accommodation snakes around the block in Newtown, Sydney, as the rental housing shortage squeezes the nation. Picture: Chris Pavlich for The AustralianA long line of people waiting to inspect rental accommodation snakes around the block in Newtown, Sydney, as the rental housing shortage squeezes the nation. Picture: Chris Pavlich for The Australian

And Glen James, host of the My Millennial Money podcast who is a ‘rentvestor’ himself, told news.com.au he “wouldn’t ever expect my tenants to tip me”.

“From a renter’s point of view, I’m not tipping you – I pay the rent that you ask, and you’re to provide what your obligation is, and that is rental accommodation, repairs and maintenance,” he said.

“If you don’t want to provide that for rent, then you don’t have to be a landlord, that’s part of the deal- I pay for a service you provide, and if you’re not interested in that, you shouldn’t be a landlord.

“On the landlord’s side of the fence, I would never expect my tenants to pay anything more to me above the rental amount, and in relation to being accessible 24/7, that’s a bit ridiculous because tenants are provided with emergency contacts for repairs if and when they are needed, and anything non-critical can go back to the managing agent.”

Mr James added especially during the current rental crisis in Australia, property owners had a “moral responsibility not to be screwing and gouging people”.

“If you’re a property owner, you’ve got to show people the humanity and dignity you’d expect yourself if you were in the position of renting,” he said.

“Don’t treat people in your rental properties like they’re a commercial entity to gouge.”

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He added that property owners should not be upping the rent to cover their own interest rate rises, and reminded tenants they had rights.

“If you get a rental increase, check the state-based rules – some states will allow the tenant to have every right to ask how they came up with the rental price and for examples of similar properties, so be empowered to push back and ask for evidence.”

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