Failed rental inspection

By 10 May 2010 40

I’ve recently moved to Canberra and have been subjected to my first rental inspection which I “failed” for having not vacuumed my floor, having a dusty vanity in the bathroom and having a stove top that wasn’t spotless!  I stupidly forgot about the inspection and so they let themselves in while I was at work, the clincher was my ex-partner had decided to leave his cat with me the weekend before (no cats allowed in the lease even after I offered to pay an extra $10 a week they said I had to get rid of him, but they are happy for me to keep my dog) and I had not had a chance to advise/ask the agent whether I could have a cat as well. 

So, granted the cat is an issue, but I’m concerned that this “failed” inspection is going to effectively “blacklist” me for future rentals.

I work for a bank in a high level management position with a good income, have excellent references from previous landlords but am worried that I am now perceived as a bad tenant.

I’m considering breaking my fixed lease as I don’t want to be bullied by these agents for another 11 months, and I want to keep my cat and dog – any advice welcome!

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40 Responses to
Failed rental inspection
johnny_the_knife 8:35 am
10 May 10

From the ACT Tennants Union:

“For the purpose of inspections there is no obligation on the tenant to return the premises to perfect condition. You have every right to leave the premises in their every day state, bearing in mind your obligations under your tenancy agreement to take reasonable care of the premises and keep them reasonably clean, having regard to the normal incidents of living (cl 63(c)).”

sloppery 8:50 am
10 May 10

If you are a high level manager with a good income, perhaps buy a place instead of renting.

scottie_517 9:08 am
10 May 10

Welcome to the Canberra rental market. I failed an exit inspection with Janelle Bertram Ellis Weston due to the gas stove having “some blackening beneath the burners when you look underneath them”. The place was in -far- better state than when I received it.

The market’s so tight, agents think they can do what they want – it’s a joke.

Swaggie 9:15 am
10 May 10

If you can’t manage the simple business of remembering an inspection or advising the presence of a cat I’d suggest a change of career from “high level management” although after the mess bankers have caused the world in the last 3 years maybe you are well suited to the position. My advice – Cut n Run

ThatGuy 9:32 am
10 May 10

Um well having the cat is a fairly major breach of the lease. The owners could be violently allergic to cats and have intentions of moving back in eventually. It takes a crapload of cleaning to remove any last trace of cat hair.

Also, the real estate would have sent you a letter advising you of an upcoming inspection. Surely bank managers have access to little things like outlook calendars or pieces of paper and a fridge magnet. Tip for next time, leave a note for yourself saying “Clean up, hide cat”. If you can’t find a pen then stick the letter on your fridge.

Finally, if agencies don’t take a relatively hard line with routine inspections then they don’t give an impression of what state they expect the property to be left in. That being said, just do better on the next inspection. A inspection report only stays with the one property and isn’t as important as paying the rent on time and the final inspection. If you lift your game then the worst they can say is “Rent always on time, one bad inspection once but ever since then it’s been perfect.”

Pandy 9:32 am
10 May 10

Let themselvs in?

I think you have an issue with that.

p1 10:06 am
10 May 10

Have to say, nothing made me want to by a house more than the twenty year old estate agent making comments about the kitchen, because I hadn’t done the washing up the night before.

sepi 10:16 am
10 May 10

Don’t worry about it – the rental inspection will be forgotten about by the time for the next one. It isn’t like they have a register of them to show other agents or anything. I would stay put – it is hard enough to find a decent house.

Deano 10:23 am
10 May 10

“So, granted the cat is an issue, but I’m concerned that this “failed” inspection is going to effectively “blacklist” me for future rentals.”

And just what are you expecting us Rioters to do about it? Write you a reference? Picket the real estate agent?

“I’m considering breaking my fixed lease as I don’t want to be bullied by these agents for another 11 months, and I want to keep my cat and dog – any advice welcome!”


a) if you are worried about being blacklisted for future rentals, it would make sense to hang on to this one for as long as possible.


b) breaking a fixed lease after the first month would be a bigger black mark against you.

trix 10:26 am
10 May 10

Not a well-known firm beginning with I- and ending with -dependent, is it? Because that’s just in their style. As are the amazing direct debit forms with no start or end date (for a fixed-term lease), and no fixed sum. “Oh, that’s in case we need to get extra funds to repair the place when the tenancy has ended.” No, morons, that’s what the BOND is for. After 3 months of paying them cash at their offices – they refused to accept a direct credit – I found a private landlord who has been awesome.

Anyway, get rid of the cat (seriously, duh), clean up a bit and ask them to reschedule the inspection. Breaking your lease will be more of a hassle, I promise you. Also, one “failed” inspection doesn’t matter if they don’t have grounds to toss you out – obviously not – and you leave the place in good condition when you depart.

Woody Mann-Caruso 10:27 am
10 May 10

Standard operating procedure for Canberra brownshirts – I mean, real estate agents. Oh, sorry, mustn’t lump those highly qualified and ethical individals in with mere ‘property managers’.

Over the years I’ve copped:

– ‘Dishes in sink’ – yes, my rinsed cereal bowl, which I put there while you were doing the inspection
– ‘Dust on rear of television’ – my television, mind you, not the landlord’s
– ‘Boots in laundry have dried mud on soles, boots sitting directly on tiles’- GASP NOT THE LAUNDRY TILES
– ‘Dining room cluttered – books on table, papers stacked on floor’ – excuse me for studying

I got out of the rental market in 2002. Things weren’t as tight as they are now so I had no qualms about having screaming arguments with these legumes (them screaming, me calmly pointing at relevant ‘quiet enjoyment’ clauses of the legislation and our lease), and this didn’t affect my ability to get subsequent leases.

However, in 2007 my sister in law had to leave town after being blacklisted by one agent who gave negative referee reports to other agents. Her crime was standing up for herself after receiving letters advising of additional, illegal inspections, refusing to bow down to unreasonable and unlawful rent increases, and knowing her rights when the landlord decided to sell the property. This earned her a label as a ‘difficult tenant’. When you’ve got a 1% vacancy rate (or whatever it is), it takes much less than that just to move you to second place, first loser.


troll-sniffer 10:33 am
10 May 10

yeah don’t worry; your crimes, though they be punishable by hanging by the neck until dead in the eyes of the agent, aren’t manifestly grevious and should not result in an adverse report in the long run. If your cat ain’t there and you’ve made an attempt to pretend you live a spotless existence for the next inspection you should find your perceived status has dropped to life with hard labour m’lord.

troll-sniffer 10:38 am
10 May 10

But don’t expect any symapthy for the cat issue. You should be able to amicably break a lease if you pay for a new advert in Allhomes and pay rent up until the new tenant’s lease commences, and possibly a new round of leasing charges if the agent gets nasty. If you do want to keep your cat ring the agent explain the cat has been dumped on you by your ex you can’t or won’t turf it out so you need to find alternative accommodation and you wish to find out what would be involved in finding a new (catless) tenant. The agent cannot expect to deny you some leeway in such a tight rental market.

Overheard 10:47 am
10 May 10

Good luck with finding a good one. I’m sure they exist, but in the years of renting/group-housing in this town (= many) I’ve found property managers are definitely not the sharpest knives in the drawer. Bordering on criminally negligent in some instances. (Or criminal, in the case of one I dealt with who later had to go away for a short spell when he was caught up to his elbows in the till.)

Unfortunately it’s a sellers’ market, so “I’ll take my custom elsewhere” will often be greeted with a shrug of the shoulders and a “You still here?” kind of ambivalence.

I avoid the “Real Estate Agent of the Year…. Again” like bubonic plague.

Frano 10:58 am
10 May 10

scottie_517 said :

Welcome to the Canberra rental market. I failed an exit inspection with Janelle Bertram Ellis Weston due to the gas stove having “some blackening beneath the burners when you look underneath them”. The place was in -far- better state than when I received it.

The market’s so tight, agents think they can do what they want – it’s a joke.

Funny you should state Bertram Ellis at Weston. I rented a house through them and they were just plain NASTY! It was a few years ago when the drought was in full swing. I made a good effort on the gardens, but I am not a “Don Burke” nor were the gardens the Botanic Gardens! An old plant (ugly thing) in the front yard died, probably due to it’s age and drought, and we were told to “replace it!”. We were also threatened with, “if these roses die, you will have to replace them”.

My mother in law parked her car on the front lawn once when visting which was bad timing…as Bertram Ellis did an inspection and attacked us over that also…as if the front grass was a pristene lawn!

Every inspection was fraught with danger…but when we were moving out we were told “the garbage bin is dirty, it needs to be cleaned”. We were good tenants; clean, tidy, didn’t put holes in the wall….but we drew the line at cleaning a GARBAGE BIN! We weren’t going to waste a precious resource like water on cleaning an object that stores filth!

I have been a tenant and a landlord, so I have seen both sides. Most people are good and fair. If both sides are fair & reasonable everyone will be happy and you can have a long lasting relationship. There are some filthy tenants as well as some unfair and nasty landlords and agents. If you get a bad one (either side) move on as quickly as you can.

p1 11:00 am
10 May 10


Won’t somebody think of the children!

p1 11:03 am
10 May 10

….but when we were moving out we were told “the garbage bin is dirty, it needs to be cleaned”.

Did you point out that the bin belongs to the ACT Government (it says it on the side), and as such they had no right to comment?

muFasa 11:08 am
10 May 10

I’m with Frano – there are some horrible agents here in Canberra and from friends experience, once you have one bad reference, they all turn away.

The cat is an issue and you shouldn’t have had the cat there – as for the rest of it… it’s just a whole lot of BS!

Katietonia 11:14 am
10 May 10

Housing inspections are the WORST, however I think having a cat there when you weren’t meant to really is an issue. Vacuuming is kind of expected too, as is cleaning the stove top. I would hardly call that bullying. I’ve had one estate agent get out a cotton bud and check the inside of the window frames.

I know a few people that have failed inspections as have not had problems renting again, though repeatedly failing them I imagine would put you on some kind of blacklist with that company.

Also avoid “real estate agent of the year”. This just means they are cunning and evil. :D Had nothing but stress and bad dealings with them.

Grail 12:05 pm
10 May 10

No pets on the lease means no pets. Your ex-partner abandoned the cat, the cat should be at the RSPCA (and the ex-partner needs to learn about responsibility, perhaps). If you’re not going to say “no” to a cat when there’s a no pets policy in place, do you mind if I just leave this car on your verge for a month or so? I’ll be back to pick it up next month when my yard is tidied up, honest! Oh, and have a stack of free TVs while I’m here!

I can understand a property manager making comments about the general tidiness of the place, after all as a landlord myself I’d really prefer tenants to keep the place better than I could :) But “failing” an inspection for dust in random places is a little petty. Not vacuuming the floor is a hanging offense if there’s carpet involved, IMHO. Part of being a tenant is taking proper care of the place to leave it in the best condition possible when you quit the lease. Failing to vacuum carpet leads to carpet wearing faster, meaning it gets tattier sooner and needs to be replaced so people will pay the premium rent I’m expecting. Not only that, but that acrylic pile is really expensive stuff to replace when you foolish tenants mess it up! Oh, the white man’s… sorry… landlord’s burden…

But leaving muddy shoes in the laundry isn’t such a bad crime – unless my builder was stupid and put unglazed tiles in the laundry, meaning they’ll soak up every last stain. But that’s my problem, not yours.

Sad to say, I’m definitely on the landlord/agent’s side this time. A whole week went by and you didn’t make time to talk to the agent about the cat? Would you complain if the agent took a week to call a plumber to fix a failed hot water service? Allergies have already been mentioned in this discussion – some people get symptoms that make the worst flu you’ve ever had look like a mere sniffle, just from having a few cat hairs in the air.

As for Independent – these are the folks who are pushing the “Altitude” 18 storey apartment block to be build soon in Belconnen. They want investors to buy now (1 bedroom apartments from $380k), before the plans are even released, before the existing structure has been demolished*, and I’m wondering if there’s even a development application in progress much less approved… no surprises that the “Large Real Estage Agency of the Year” award comes from a real estate industry body.

*of course, someone will no doubt point out to me that the old Dick Smith/erstwhile Zeffereli’s and buildings on that block have already been demolished. I confess I don’t pay much attention when I’m driving past :\

MissChief 1:05 pm
10 May 10

Woody Mann-Caruso said “arguments with these legumes…”

hahahaha…. but aren’t they?!

Have and still deal with Property Managers from a landlord and a renter perspective and let me tell you, the only ones who are ever right are them! Direct communication between tenant and owner is far more efficient in settling matters mutually and rationally.

I personally wouldn’t worry about one bad report. The cat issue needs sorting though.

youami 1:29 pm
10 May 10

Swaggie said :

If you can’t manage the simple business of remembering an inspection or advising the presence of a cat I’d suggest a change of career from “high level management” although after the mess bankers have caused the world in the last 3 years maybe you are well suited to the position. My advice – Cut n Run


Like seriously, how can you forget an inspection? They give you plenty of notice, usually send you a ‘checklist’ so that things such as vacuum the floor and dust surfaces are listed as an explicit task to complete, plus if you were serious about the inspection you would have spent up until the very last day/night cleaning! Sounds to me you need a lesson in time management and maybe go back to reading the rules on tenancies.

fyi, I am both a landlord (in Sydney) and tenant (in Canberra) and can appreciate the issues on both sides. I want to know my investment as a landlord is being kept up to scratch for re-sale value and make sure that the % I pay agents to manage my property is earned. As a tenant, I want to make a good impression to the agent on behalf of the landlord to demonstrate that I am a good tenant for the property. I also want to live in my unit so why not keep it clean.

Anyway, you should explain the situation, apologise to the agent, invite them to another inspection (if they haven’t already asked for one) and show them that you can keep it tidy and to their expectations — and for goodness sake be at home!

Finally, people usually bag out agents but I just want to say that, despite some repairs taking an extraordinary long time to be fixed (air conditioning), I have nothing but praise with my real estate agent from Independent in Civic. They give at least 8 weeks notice for inspections, allow me to book a time with them for the inspection, plus they send me that inspection checklist I talked about above. Very professional and very easy!

youami 1:32 pm
10 May 10

btw, I have no business or professional affiliation with Independent or the real estate industry. My previous post (if it is posted with original content) is only my opinion.

Cameron 1:56 pm
10 May 10

You received your notice, the Real Estate agents let themselves in all the time. Each inspection letter says so, and it would be ridiculous if you had to be there for it.

That said, I’ve had inspections I’ve forgotten about too. Simply have a conversation with the agent and talk to them about the reasonable issues – you haven’t got a leg to stand on with the cat though. They’ve heard the “it’s a friends and we’re looking after it” story a million times, so whether it’s true or not they won’t believe it.

As for the failed inspection itself, address whatever their issues are or establish that they aren’t in fact issues, and pass the next one. They’re not going to blacklist you over it.

Gungahlin Al 2:10 pm
10 May 10

Self-important wannabe Hitlers. Also have such near horizons that they fail to understand that the respectable person they are treating like crap is probably planning to buy a home to get out of that grind, and will not ever touch a property that they are handling due to the treatment they have received.


Plus, they will make a point of telling people at every opportunity they get so that others refuse to deal with such disrepectful cretin-employing organisations.

You hear me Maloneys??

As P1 said.

trevar 2:53 pm
10 May 10

I don’t think you have a problem at all, unless they’ve asked you to leave or undergo another inspection. And if it’s the latter, all you have to do is return the cat to its rightful owner (or to its Maker). You’ll get petty little comments about dust and vacuuming, but they won’t fail you. And there’s no blacklisting for failed rental inspections. You’d have to breach your contract for that.

BTW we had reason to terminate a lease on a property we rented through Rainey and Horney at Woden once, and the little girl who did the inspection kept lamenting, “oh, I can’t get you for that,” as she went through the house and saw how spotless it was (apart from the termite infestation)…

H1NG0 3:25 pm
10 May 10

I’m glad I no longer rent. I think LJ Hooker weren’t happy when I bought a house without informing them first. I think they take a lot of pleasure in making your moving out as difficult as possible. I never had one bad comment on my house inspections until we tried to move out. One gem was that they said the blinds were “dusty”. If you look at the blinds, that was the texture on the blinds itself, you can dust it all you want but that isn’t coming off. They also asked us to clear the crap out of the garage that was there when we moved in despite us noting it down on the condition report. There were a few other minor nit-picking things as well and was a disappointing end after caring for the place like it was our own for the previous 3 years.

It wasn’t the landlord’s doing either. We met him several times and was more than happy about the state of the place.

CoffinRX2 7:06 pm
10 May 10

I personally find Independent Property Group the best in town that I have dealt with. I rented through them for a period in 2005-06 and bought a place through them at the same time. Seamlessly dealt with them breaking my lease and moving into my new place. … when I turned that place into an investment property, they managed it for me perfectly and my tenants had no issues at all with them. … also sold that place through them and bought a house through them.

Bad property manager is the guys at Home Loan Centre, .. recently leased through them, .. offered us a new lease, we agreed and signed it, after the dead line they tried to evict us on grounds which were not legal, and we took it to ACAT and won hands down.

Mimiboo 8:08 pm
10 May 10

And this why we have a housing shortage – nobody wants to rent especially having to put up with those nasty real estate agents when you’re a tenant. And while I’m ranting, can I just say that BADenoch are a bunch of pr**ks! So picky about every little thing when it came time to vacate the place and I kept the house immaculate (I’m the type that cleans the bathroom every 3 days!) and in tip top shape.

scottie_517 8:43 pm
10 May 10

I think we should name and shame!

On the other hand, I am renting directly from the landlord now, who is one of the most reasonable people I’ve ever met. He’s courteous and considerate and because of this I make a particular effort to keep the place in the greatest shape possible. I don’t want to leave a nasty taste in his mouth and have him end up like “zee agents”.

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