With over 140,000 followers on the social media app TikTok and almost 4 million likes on his videos, Jordie van den Berg has amassed an army of supporters for his crusade against the real estate industry.
"Shit Rentals" started around three years ago when Jordie asked his followers to send in photos and testimonials about their sub-standard rental properties and made videos about their stories.
Balancing the playing field
Over a coffee at a cafe in Melbourne's inner-southern suburbs, Jordie says it's not surprising so many people sent in their stories, but it is depressing.
"It got to the point where I couldn't make a video on every submission. Also, it's not fair for people to rely on some white dude on the internet to tell their story, so that's why I decided to make shitrentals.org so everyone can tell their own story without having to go through someone," he says.
The project is the antithesis of the renter databases and blacklists that landlords and agents use to flag an alleged problem renter.
Jordie's website, launched earlier this year, invites renters to submit their own reviews of landlords and real estate agents and warn prospective renters about some of the worst properties on the market.
The aim is to help balance the playing field in light of the massive amounts of data landlords have on rental applicants
"When you see a property as a renter advertised, you just get the photos from the last time the property was sold, which can be 10 or more years ago, and then just some general description that tells you nothing about the experience that you're going to have," he says.
"So people can upload their own photos and show what it's actually like, and then more detailed stuff like what is the landlord like, do they come over randomly and harass you?"
He says the aim is to help balance the playing field in light of the massive amounts of data landlords have on rental applicants.
He adds that there should be an official government register and that people shouldn't need to rely on "some random guy on the internet" to know the truth about a property.
"People can upload their own photos and show what it's actually like," says Jordie van den Berg, creator of shitrentals.org.
'No one has sued me yet': Jordie isn't afraid of a backlash
The website hasn't been without opposition. When someone writes a review on the website, the exact address of the property is listed so others can find it, something which has led to several legal threats from agents.
The writer of the review is de-identified, and Jordie says he screens every review before it goes online to ensure it doesn't mention a landlord or an individual agent by name.
Jordie says he screens every review before it goes online to ensure it doesn't mention a landlord or an individual agent by name
Jordie, who is admitted as a lawyer in New South Wales, says he set up the site that way to reduce the legal risk for renters who may be too afraid to speak out.
"In terms of the risk, I went to law school, I have lawyer friends, I'll be fine, these tenants at the end of the day are not going to be fine," he says. "No one has sued me yet, they are more than welcome to. At the end of the day I'm a content creator, I'm going to make fun of them."
Renters are being ignored
Jordie dismisses the idea that the register is unfair to landlords or agents, saying they can submit their responses if they disagree with a renter's review.
"Meanwhile we have rental blacklists of tenants, which tenants don't have access to at all, and real estate agents can write whatever they want," Jordie points out.
I want politicians to be aware, this is not just some idiot making videos on the internet, this is a big problem that we have to addressJordie van den Berg, creator of shitrentals.org
He says renters, who make up roughly a third of the voting population, are being ignored at all levels of government and that much more needs to be done to address the combination of soaring rent prices and poor quality properties.
"I want politicians to be aware, this is not just some idiot making videos on the internet, this is a big problem that we have to address."
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.