A real estate agent named Bronwyn Pollitt in Australia’s Perth had her licence revoked after she sent a racist email to her Indian tenants in which she contrasted the hygiene of Australians and Indians in response to a dispute over their security deposit for a rented house.
The Western Australia (WA) State Administrative Tribunal suspended her licence for eight months effective from 1 September following the two-year-old conflict. Notably, the tribunal termed her inept in holding the real estate and business agent licence.
The issue pertains to a dispute with former tenants Sandeep Kumar and Ritu Devi Sharma. After a cleaning fee was deducted from their bond in May 2021, according to the tribunal, the director of the Perth-based company Mavin Real Estate, sent the email to them. Sandeep Kumar and Ritu Devi Sharma vacated the house they had been residing at in Perth’s northern suburb of Hocking in December 2020.
After their departure, Bronwyn Pollitt conducted a final inspection of the place and notified them that the owner did not consent for the bond to be fully released. The tenants received an email from her in May 2021 that was critical of Indian culture after months of recurrent conversations about the bond and cleaning expenses.
Bronwyn Pollitt wrote, “After my discussion with Ritu about cleaning I have given thought to the cultural differences and attitudes to cleaning coming through from my Indian tenants. I and my English family have been in Australia for generations going back to the first settlement. Our living standards, our quality of life and expectations are very different to the overcrowded, overpopulated, dirty squaller (sic) of many other countries including India.”
She went on a racist tirade and wrote, “Therefore, it is impossible to have a discussion about what is clean and when I and most Australians have an expectation of what is clean and you are talking from what you are used to. I and most Australians have an expectation of what is clean and you are talking from what you are used to. There is no comparison, there cannot be any discussion as you are not used to our cultural way of living.”
She even invoked her skin colour and dragged her Caucasian race into the issue. “I as a white Australian believe you and the others that come to Australia as you want to enjoy the lovely way of life we enjoy, clean, fresh air, jobs or if you cannot get a job social support, medical help and no overpopulation.” It is important to mention here that white people are actually invaders in Australia who have driven the aboriginal Australians, the natives of the island continent, to near extinction.
She further attacked Indians and added, “Hopefully the massive influx of Indian people will not turn our beautiful country into the filth that is India where bodies are on the street, half-burnt bodies are in the river and people climb over each other for medical help while living in absolute slums. It all starts with cleaning the rental properties though and being mindful of what you have left and knowing the same thing as India will become Perth if you make no attitude changes.”
She further said, ‘While living in absolute slums. It all starts with cleaning the rental properties though and being mindful of what you have left and knowing the same thing as India will become Perth if you make no attitude changes.’
According to the white Australian, a standard after-tenant cleaning fee is in the neighbourhood of $1,000. It is understood that a $200 cleaning cost was at the centre of the argument. Sandeep Kumar and Ritu Devi Sharma turned down the agent’s offer to pay the amount.
She again made a reference to her race and expressed, “And a white Australian has an expectation that they will move into a clean Australian standards clean not an Indian standard clean. Different if we moved to India then we would have to put up with the Indian standard. You have a right to your culture as do we and the cleaning of properties cannot be lowered to suit another culture. I have many diverse cultures renting and they all are expected to leave the properties fully clean.”
Bronwyn Pollitt apologises for her racist rant
A few weeks later, in June 2021, she delivered the pair another email of apologies in which she alleged that she had “never intended to be racist.” She tried to defend herself and stated, “Firstly, I apologise if you believe I have been racist against you. That was never my intent. I compared the ongoing property condition report and photos with how the property was handed back, the same as is done for every tenant. After vacating more than 6 months ago you have both been strongly vocal about the process.”
She claimed, “Each and every attempt to resolve the issues has been an argument until I realised that due to differing views which I tried to explain in my last email and are not racist, and never intended to be racist. (It was) just the result of differences in culture and different life experiences by each party meaning that the situation is seen through differing lenses.”
The tribunal noted that Bronwyn Pollitt had been under pressure at the time of the email because it went out at the height of the COVID-19 epidemic, which caused several changes to tenancy laws. She has committed to undergoing coaching and training as well as making “internal changes” to avoid a repeat of the current episode.
Real Estate Institute of Western Australia remarked, “Members not upholding the Code and the law should face disciplinary action by the appropriate authority.” Suresh Rajan, an ethnic community advocate, demanded a police investigation into the incident and labelled it one of the worst instances of overt racism he has witnessed in recent memory. He asserted that it violated the criminal code’s anti-racial vilification laws.