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Are Canberra tenants selfish?

By Property Manager - 6 February 2012 50

free!

As a follow up to an earlier post titled Are Canberra Landlords Greedy, here is an article to balance the view on things. Thanks to Holden Caulfield for the title.

With the information age has come a considerable improvement in the treatment of tenants when compared to days gone by. This coupled with the improved education standards of agents has ensured that tenants are generally not taken advantage of as history shows they had been in the past.

It is a good thing that tenants are now more empowered and knowledgeable of their rights as it improves the quality of service throughout the industry and will continue to weed out the dodgy owners and agents who try to take advantage of unwitting tenants.

BUT, it appears that a growing number of Canberra tenants seem to think that paying rent entitles them to a five star, 24 hour concierge service. This isn’t a reflection of a tenants’ improved understanding of their rights, it shows an unreasonable expectation that the world owes them something.

As an example, I recently had a tenant request a replacement for a failing garage door remote, but when I asked her to at least see if replacing the battery would help she found that there was no fault. She would happily have cost the owner $150+ for the cost of a new programmed remote when all that was needed was to replace a $5 battery.

This is indicative of a growing culture of helplessness and unreasonable expectancy that the property owner will foot the bill for everything without any requirement of common sense of minor effort from the tenant. At the first suggestion of a fault there are tenants calling for help without bothering to properly identify and troubleshoot the issue, when often the problem can be overcome with 30 seconds of rational thought.

Most investment owners have only one investment property, and many of these are family homes rented for a short term until the owners move in themselves. These properties are not owned by corporations with unlimited resources, they are owned by people like you and me who work full time just to pay the bills.

Of course these comments will raise the ire of many tenants, but maybe have a think about whether you would be happy dip into your own pocket to pay $100 to change a $5.00 light globe. This is effectively what many tenants are expecting the landlord to do.

And before you attack your property manager as a defence, consider that while your property manager may be a douche, the property owner has to deal with the same douche of a property manager AND they also have a douche of a tenant who bleeds them of money because they are too lazy to use their brain.

Don’t be that guy.

Image courtesy nuttakit

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50 Responses to
Are Canberra tenants selfish?
Property Manager 3:24 pm 06 Feb 12

Holden: Indeed there are dickheads everywhere, it’s one of the great wonders of modern society.
Me No Fry: I couldn’t agree more.
Harveyk1: Thank you for illustrating my point.

gentoopenguin 3:23 pm 06 Feb 12

Wow, one anecdotal example to back up an entire argument. When did RiotACT become talkback radio?? I’m a tenant but can see both sides for what they are – reflections of a normal society. For every asshole landlord in Canberra, there is an equally asshole tenant. You can only hope that the universe brings them together and leaves the good landlords and tenants to get on with their lives.

NoImRight 3:14 pm 06 Feb 12

An interesting OP. As with anything involving the human race there will be a varietyof tenants as there is with landlords.We recently evicted a tenant from a family members property that was your classic never pay the rent, punch holes in the wall kind of guy. The charming mess he left behind was almost a cliche.

On the other hand I have a tenant that has been perfect, pays on time keeps the property clean etc. We recently agreed to rener their lease with no incraese in rent as an acknowledgement of this.

Funny you mention the lightbulb, we actually had that once. Wanted an electrician to come out and change it. Also wanted a locksmith to come out and explain how deadbolts work.

If you want to be the type of tenant who demands every inch of his rights then expect a landlord who does the same.

devils_advocate 3:09 pm 06 Feb 12

Mysteryman said :

So you have one example of a tenant asking you for something that was easily fixed when you made a suggestion (perhaps they just weren’t thinking when they made the , and that is supposed to indicate a “growing culture of helplessness and unreasonable expectancy that the property owner will foot the bill for everything without any requirement of common sense of minor effort from the tenant”? Doubtful.

That’s what an example is – it’s one instance that is illustrative of a given issue. As opposed to a comprehensive listing.

arescarti42 3:05 pm 06 Feb 12

Tetranitrate said :

“As an example, I recently had a tenant request a replacement for a failing garage door remote, but when I asked her to at least see if replacing the battery would help she found that there was no fault. She would happily have cost the owner $150+ for the cost of a new programmed remote when all that was needed was to replace a $5 battery. “

This is not evidence of selfishness as you’re trying to twist it toward being, it’s evidence of stupidity.

My thoughts exactly. Some people just lack the ability to troubleshoot problems like that. If she had refused to try changing the battery or demanded that someone else fix it, then you could probably chalk it up as unreasonable expectations.

Grail 2:52 pm 06 Feb 12

harvyk1 said :

Quite frankly it’s none of her business if her reasonable request costs the owner $5 or $150, it’s up to the property manager \ owner to fix any problems regardless.

It’s up to the property manager and owner to maintain the property in a habitable state. It’s usually the responsibility of the tenant to change light bulbs, replace smoke alarm batteries yearly, oil hinges, mop floors, wash windows, remove cobwebs, etc.

If you think otherwise, I’m sure we can come to an arrangement. I’ll warn you in advance that I currently rent this apartment out for $380/wk, but for the service you are asking, I’ll be charging $1000/wk, and you’ll be signing a clause that gives me access to the property 24/7. You’ll get the service, don’t worry about that. The things I will do for money are only limited by decency and legality.

00davist 2:47 pm 06 Feb 12

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

I’m a landlord several times over, and I’ve found that it’s well worth going to the effort of finding a decent property manager. It’s also well worth going to the effort of finding and retaining good tenants.

I have a policy of treating tenants like clients, and making sure they have everything they need, and that any issues are fixed immediately. I also have a policy of removing dickhead tenants (which I have found happens only very rarely, mainly because I filter them out when they apply).

I’ve rented a number of properties over the years, and I have found, in my experience, there are many landlords like you, where if you are happy to be a good tenant, there equally happy to be good landlords.

My biggest rule these days, is to avoid situations where the landlords seem too close, my first rental had the landlord living in a house in the backyard, and he had a tendency to enter the house while we were out, and my last one was a property where the landlords lived over a hill out back, and owned all the surrounding land, in there case they wanted too much controll over the house (to the extent of asking we put pot plants on the veranda to make it look nicer) and therfore took the liberty of trying to design our life to suit thier wishes for the property.

Apart from that it’s been quite pleasant, one guy was a little to DIY, so repairs were always done by him, even where they exceeded his expertese (but hey, he was a nice guy, and it was $150 a week for a 2 bedroom place, you got used to the odd leaky wall) and one was very disinterested in the house, so repairs took a while, but the house was good, and he was very professional.

From my observations, and experiences it’s really about the people, and personally I could not say that there are more bad tennant than landlords, or vice versa, just good and bad people on each side.

Property managers tend to be the same, i have had some that went to amazing lenghts to be as helpfull as possible (the last house had one of the best, she put more effort in than i could have asked to try and get our landlords to back off) and others have been harder to deal with (one lady was nice enough, but the ageny itself insisted on some very excessive inspection practises, and there was a fella down south who kept getting me to re-clean the house at the end, untill i mentioned i would be going higher with my concerns if he kept expecting me to come back each week just to clean up after each viewing)

If you are carefull, and willing to be reasonable, you will find you tend to end up in a good situation.

Mysteryman 2:44 pm 06 Feb 12

So you have one example of a tenant asking you for something that was easily fixed when you made a suggestion (perhaps they just weren’t thinking when they made the , and that is supposed to indicate a “growing culture of helplessness and unreasonable expectancy that the property owner will foot the bill for everything without any requirement of common sense of minor effort from the tenant”? Doubtful.

With the amount of hoops that tenants have to jump through to get a place these days, and the high cost of renting in the ACT, I don’t blame them for expecting the landlord to do anything/everything that is required of them by law.

Tetranitrate 2:43 pm 06 Feb 12

“As an example, I recently had a tenant request a replacement for a failing garage door remote, but when I asked her to at least see if replacing the battery would help she found that there was no fault. She would happily have cost the owner $150+ for the cost of a new programmed remote when all that was needed was to replace a $5 battery. “

This is not evidence of selfishness as you’re trying to twist it toward being, it’s evidence of stupidity.

Reminds me of someone I spoked to at a previous job who called in the actew after hours hot water line.
him: “Hey um my hot water isn’t working. I’ve just got back from holidays and have had the power off, but I’ve turned it back on now and I still still have no hot water”
me: “okay. well an after hours tech at this time is going to cost $380. I can put that through to the tech but just to check, is it a gas or electric system”
him: “electric”
me: “you know electric systems take at least half an hour to heat up right?”
him: “oh….. thanks” *click*
me: *facepalm*

devils_advocate 2:32 pm 06 Feb 12

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

I have a policy of treating tenants like clients, and making sure they have everything they need, and that any issues are fixed immediately. I also have a policy of removing dickhead tenants (which I have found happens only very rarely, mainly because I filter them out when they apply).

^This. You can spot the complainers a mile off at the inspections. My property manager has instructions to smile, nod politely and cross them off the list. Usually they’re the ones that don’t want to pay the asking rent anyway, even though there’s 10 other people that do.

harvyk1 2:26 pm 06 Feb 12

As an example, I recently had a tenant request a replacement for a failing garage door remote, but when I asked her to at least see if replacing the battery would help she found that there was no fault. She would happily have cost the owner $150+ for the cost of a new programmed remote when all that was needed was to replace a $5 battery.

Quite frankly it’s none of her business if her reasonable request costs the owner $5 or $150, it’s up to the property manager \ owner to fix any problems regardless.

In regards to troubleshooting on behalf of the tenant, some people are better at it than others, and of course if during troubleshooting a problem the tenant makes a mistake and damage happens to the property you could easily imagine an owner \ property manager insisting the tenant pays for repairs.

I’m not stating that there is no such thing as a bad tenant, but is it really the responsibility of the tenant to look after the interests of the landlord? No, it’s the responsibility of the tenant to fore-fill the obligations within the tenancy agreement, nothing more, nothing less. Making sure the landlord is happy with the agreement does not fall under the obligations of a tenant.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 2:23 pm 06 Feb 12

I’m a landlord several times over, and I’ve found that it’s well worth going to the effort of finding a decent property manager. It’s also well worth going to the effort of finding and retaining good tenants.

I have a policy of treating tenants like clients, and making sure they have everything they need, and that any issues are fixed immediately. I also have a policy of removing dickhead tenants (which I have found happens only very rarely, mainly because I filter them out when they apply).

Me no fry 2:16 pm 06 Feb 12

OK, I’ll bite.

I must admit to having a deep level of animus towards landlords/property managers, after the usual treatment by a series of thoughtless, greedy, vindictive low-life arseholes during my renting/house-sharing career in Canberra decades ago. I once even came close to punching a particularly obnoxious LJH guy who was so slimy he made your skin crawl. To my immense satisfaction this guy ended up on the wrong side of the law due to his shady practises. Wish I could remember his name – he was a king-size douche.

So, when I hear things are better now for tenants I say about bloody time.

However, the problem you’re describing is I think one that is affecting society across all activities – people have a massively inflated sense of their own importance and often have unrealistic ideas about the level of service they should expect in certain situations. I’ll bet there would be tenants who wouldn’t be arsed trying a new battery for the garage door remote, on the theory they’re paying so much rent it MUST be somebody else’s problem.

poetix 2:09 pm 06 Feb 12

‘…the property owner has to deal with the same douche of a property manager…’

Yes, but the landlord appoints the property manager (or the agency that employs the manager) and has a choice. The tenant has no choice.

You talk about tenants as if they’re recalcitrant toddlers who deliberately soil their naughty corner despite being toilet trained. The best thing we ever did was to buy a house and escape the hideous rituals of inspections and property managers.

Holden Caulfield 1:55 pm 06 Feb 12

Haha, thanks mate.

Having been on both sides of the coin (tenant several times, landlord once), and considering myself to be fairly reasonable as either a tenant or a landlord, I’ve only ever ended up being properly shafted once and that was by a tenant.

As always, there’s dickheads in all walks of life. The trick is trying to manage them as best you can when contact becomes unavoidable.

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