Agents - the heroic and the horrific | Rental rants | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered
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'Jimmy, I like ur column SMH, but do u have 2 continually bag out landlords, most of us r fair otherwise we wouldn't have tenants.' So Tweeted @schtang a few weeks ago.
I didn't realise I was bagging out landlords, but he has a point. And, based on zero scientific evidence, I want to say the vast majority of landlords and tenants are decent people who just want to do the right thing.
But not all tenants and landlords are like that and, anyway, somewhere in the middle are Rental Agents. Having been both tenant and landlord, I know agents range from heroic to horrific, with the worst causing problems for landlords and tenants alike.
Some consistently put the wrong tenants in the wrong buildings for a quick buck, then blame 'StrataFascists' when the renters are driven out for breaching by-laws.
Others can't be bothered to pass on legitimate complaints from tenants then tell them it's the landlords who are dragging their feet.
Ask any building manager or EC secretary and they'll tell you bad agents are among the biggest blights on their lives. Maybe there should be a blacklist for bad agents, like there is for tenants.
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You’re so right Jimmy!
When, as Secretary of our self-managed Plan, I first started dealing with Rental Agents / Property Managers generally over reminders to pay my Proprietors' Levies (their Landlords') on our Owners Corporation's Terms, not theirs, and occasionally about the behaviour of their Tenants, it became immediately apparent that anything whatsoever to do with “Strata” was a problem.
Initially I thought that my approach may have been wrong, so I deliberately set about trying to keep everything at a more personal level as opposed to being a “StrataFascist” by talking about Levy Notices, Tenancy Agreements, Common Property, and By-Laws.
But when that approach too was greeted by disinterest, I took the opportunity to speak with some of the Strata Managers around town, who confirmed that same problem, which they explained as arising from a long-standing and distinct void in the chain of communication between Strata Managers and Property Managers, and a “conflict of responsibilities” between the two.
Personally, I find that “conflict of responsibilities” quite odd, as both Property and Strata Managers have Proprietors as their Clients, but that conflict is certainly there.
Even taking into account that some Rental Agents / Property Mangers probably have Proprietors / Landlords on their backs about vacant investment properties, in my opinion nothing excuses the “attitude” and the lack of knowledge exhibited by Property Managers; including about their own roles and responsibilities.
In one extreme example of the “horrific”, one Property Manager who was at the time inspecting a Unit in our Plan subsequent to a tenancy, loudly abused another Member of our Executive Committee (EC) and myself after we had made an approach about the removal of some rubbish that had been left on the Common Property by those tenants. Other Residents who emerged from their Units after hearing the commotion were also abused!
Understandably, I discussed the matter with the Office of Fair Trading, who said that neither I nor the Owners Corporation could lodge a Complaint about the behaviour of this Property Manager (who is also a Licensee), firstly because we were not “Clients” of that person, and secondly because Complaints are generally limited to matters of professional behaviour; as if this incident didn’t impact on the individual’s professionalism.
I don’t wish to make this post into a personal rant, so back to the point…
In recent years I’ve been raising tenancy issues directly with my Proprietors (with limited success; but that’s another story), and have limited my dealings with Property Managers / Rental Agents to fending-off their repeated attempts to have the Owners Corporation (O/C) attend to every conceivable repair, and if not to claim those on its Insurance.
The NSW Office of Fair Trading (OFT) needs to ensure that Property Managers have a modicum of knowledge about how some aspects of the NSW Strata Schemes Management Act (1996) interact with the NSW Residential Tenancies Act and Regulation (2010), and the NSW Landlord & Tenant Act / Regulations/ Amendments; I’ve had several Agents who had no idea whatsoever about S119 Noticifations and the fact that they shouldn’t just affix their signage all over Common Property!
(PS – I must finish my rant by advising that I after several letters, I was able to speak with the C.E.O. of the National Franchise Operation with whom that “horrific” Agent’s Business was at the time a Member, and after she similarly abused him, the Franchise was withdrawn).
I own two rental apartments and have been badly let down by both property managers. I replaced one earlier this year and am in the throes of finding a replacement for the one I sacked last week. Their main flaws were non-existent or inadequate inspections, poorly executed repairs, and failure to pass on legitimate tenant concerns.
I interviewed a couple of prospective managers on Friday, but it is really hard to know how good they will be in practice. I agree that a bad management register would be a huge benefit to landlords.
In the apartment block that my unit is in there are several tenanted properties. If I lived closer I would go doorknocking to ask how the tenants found their managers, in terms of responsiveness, prompt repairs, etc.
Otherwise it's very much a lucky dip. Don't suppose anyone knows a gem of a property manager in the Manly area?
Nibbles55 - you've raised one of my most frustrating issues, and in addition to the post on this subject that's almost 12 months old ( 2 below) here's my most recent one.
I'm not a landlord, but after first-hand experience in dealing with the Property Managers who oversee the rental properties in my Plan, I've concluded that they're mostly the ones in the Agency who can't answer telephones, who keep breaking pens, who can't settle, and who can't sell properties -- and so they get the job to manage them as they regularly migrate from one Agency to another!
A couple of my Owners have had similar experiences to yours, and I've suggested that they look for Real Estate Agencies that are owned and operated by the Principal, because generally their staff members are better managed and are not on the revolving door (to the Agency next door).
That's worked for those Owners, so just maybe it's a way forward for you in that place that's 7 Miles from Sydney and 1000 miles from care!
I own a few rental properties.
I fired all my managers and went to self managing.
The results for me:
1. It's much easier to do than I ever imagined. Email, SMS, mobile phones, internet banking, on-line access to forms and rules etc all make it more possible today no matter even if you are travelling. Apart from when the tenancy changes, it's relatively easy and straightforward.
2. The tenants like it. They aren't dealing with a middle person either. Of course you have to deal with their issues prompty and properly.
3. After many, many years of paying managers I've realised that when just about any 'event' happened, they contacted me to get my opinion/permission. So I had to be involved anyway.
4. You know much more about your tenants and the relationship can be a very good one. And if it's not, at least you know.
It's been 3 years now. It was a good decision.
I'd like to note that from the Tenants' POV, Property Managers can also be useless (except when signing a lease) and unresponsive (except when there is rent owing).
Since they are effectively mediators, representing the Tenant to the Landlord and vice-versa, perhaps they should be required to have proper training?
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