Tim, a renter, discovered his landlord had enlisted a new real estate agent, PRD Toowoomba, and took to a local online community group to ask what they were like to deal with.
But he was shocked when Mitchell Betheras, a Senior Property Manager at the agency, decided to weigh in with a 'bizarre' response from his personal account.
"He was implying he was going to use his authority to kick me out of my property," Tim told Yahoo News Australia. "I fear for the safety of anybody who would have to be under Mitch’s property management".
The exchange became 'abusive'
After Tim asked for feedback on PRD, a real estate agency with franchises across the country, the initial response from locals was positive. Some even praised Mr Betheras specifically. But once the estate agent in question joined the conversation, things took a turn.
"Tim all you ever had to do was contact our office. I'm the be all and all end all in PRD property management (sic). YOU were going to be my client but your Facebook post made me reconsider. I may have room... Let me consider a little further," Mr Betheras' initial response read.
Tim quickly responded asking if there was anything offensive in his post and Mr Betheras doubled down, saying that his business doesn't operate "through Facebook" and that they have "very strict tenant selection".
"Again if you're not happy with your rental please vacate as there will be someone who will reside. Not everyone's clearly as fussy as you," he continued.
Another member of the Facebook group joined the exchange to defend Tim, telling the agent to "pull his head in" and that his behaviour was "confrontational" and "unprofessional".
After more back and forth, Mitch ended up asking the new member if they were a "closet f*g" and told both him and Tim to "f**k off".
Reactions to agent's post were swift and brutal
Screenshots of the exchange were quickly shared on other social media channels where they went viral and users began commenting on Mitch's social accounts, asking him to explain his "abusive" reaction.
"Nobody go through this low life check out this BS. He threatens people of being kicked out for asking questions [sic]," another posted to Mitch's Facebook.
"Holy heck! This idiot is surely going to lose his job. PRD are a big chain and I reckon his arse is grass once the big bosses get wind of this. So unprofessional!!" a third said.
Property manager posts an apology
After being approached by Yahoo News, Mr Betheras posted an apology to Tim in the Facebook group.
"I am deeply sorry," he wrote, addressing Tim. "I want to express my apology. I truly thought you were having a go at me professionally and personally."
Tim responded saying he accepted his apology, but added if Mr Betheras thought his comments were offensive it says a lot about his ability to act professionally.
Well-known renters advocate and content creator, Jordie van den Berg, agrees with Tim.
"There was no way the original query could have been construed as someone 'having a go at him personally and professionally' when the original poster probably didn't even know who the hell he was," he told Yahoo.
"He reached out to the poster afterwards asking them to help clear up his reputation, so personally I believe he’s not concerned about doing the right thing".
Do you have a story about your real estate agent? Contact reporter Laura Koefoed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Incident is under investigation
Toowoomba PRD principal John Bleakley declined to comment on the Facebook exchange when approached by Yahoo News, but co-principal Kim Taylor told Yahoo at this stage they are looking into the exchange and say their team "care about people" and "don't want to do wrong by anyone".
PRD Queensland's corporate head office told Yahoo News the "comments made online recently by a staff member of the PRD Toowoomba office are serious and concerning" and that the matter is under investigation.
Tim says he is still in disbelief that his "innocuous" question led to such an outburst. "[He was] lording over the fact he has complete control over where me and my family live. It was incredibly inappropriate," Tim said. "[It was] on a public forum with around 37000 members."
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