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Are Canberra tenants selfish?

Property Manager 6 February 2012 50

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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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Are Canberra tenants selfish?
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ArandaBill 9:11 am 08 Feb 12

Being a responsible landlord owning a rental property anywhere in Australia is expensive if you cannot do some of your own maintenance like ‘changing a light bulb, or changing a leaking tap washer for whic a property manager and maintenance tradesman will charge $100 plus.

Then there are the State and Territory taxes such as Land Tax, Rates and W&S charges which amount to $100+ per week for most ACT rental properties (and these are increasing at a greater rate than CPI). The cost of call out fees and services from plumbers, electricians, really any tradesman, are also very high in the ACT, almost double the rate in surrounding areas of NSW. That is the market in which ACT landlords operate and tenants unfortunately suffer from higher rental rates.

Then when the landlord finally sells up, the Federal Government comes in for a slice of Capital Gains Tax, before the money gets put into a safe and secure term deposit at a higher rate of return then rental proerty in the ACT.

In my experience 95 percent of tenants are responsible, terrfic people, just having to rent until they can afford a place of their own. Some just decide to rent long term. They are worth looking after. However, the bad eggs are a nightmare for landlords, as is the Rental Tribunal.

HenryBG 11:24 pm 07 Feb 12

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

This one thing happened to me recently with one person. It was quickly and easily resolved, but you should also know that the incident makes it appear a growing number of people exhibit / is indicative of a growing culture of some other wild generalisation not even remotely close in scope or magnitude to the first thing. Here’s another example using the same numbers with an utterly unrelated object. Therefore, some subset of people I feel poorly about are unreasonable, helpless, entitled, lacking common sense, irrational, douches and lazy.

Face it, crim-lover:

people who work hard own their own home.****

Dishonest, dole-bludging, pot-smoking scumbags have to rent.

**** Although, see separate thread on housing affordability for nuances on this

clp 9:45 pm 07 Feb 12

So ok some people suck whether they are tenants or landlords, not because they are tenants or landlords.
Hasn’t this all been done to death before?

milkman 7:34 pm 07 Feb 12

murraythecat said :

It’s not just an ACT issue. We own a house interstate, & rented it out in October when we moved. By all accounts (we have friends in the street who drive past) the tenants are keeping the house in excellent condition, and for that we are grateful and would like to be good landlords. But keeping the place in excellent condition is now the problem. They are demanding (through our PM, who keeps telling us what nice ppl they are, huh????) that we fix this, fix that, mostly things that were not there or not functioning when they moved in & signed the lease (therefor effectively accepting that the 40 year old house in the condition which it was presented to them). Eg, 2 flyscreens missing. They also dont “like” the completely functional clothesline out the back (the same one that i used without probs for 2 years).. they have requested to have a hills hoist put in, at thier own expense mind, but we don’t want a hills hoist in the middle of our back lawn, which is why we have the line where it is. The pool was losing water, & to have it repaired they were requested by our pool guy to let the water level drop so the leak could be identified, but no, they wanted to use the pool over xmas (fair enough), so had to keep topping it up. Now they are refusing to pay the excess water bill. Their list of demands from the day they moved in had been overwhelming, no, we have NOT refused any of their requests (except the hills hoist), what we have said is that we can only do so much at one time, as repairs cost money, if they can be patient, eventually they will all get done, it is in our interest too of course to keep our house in good repair. Their response is to threaten to get legal advice to back up their claim to pay less rent. Not $10 or $20 mind, but $50 less a week on a $350/week house.
So are Canberra tenants selfish, maybe, but when you move in to 40 year old house & pay $350/week rent, this behaviour is completely selfish. Grr.

Time to move ’em on…

Woody Mann-Caruso 5:57 pm 07 Feb 12

This one thing happened to me recently with one person. It was quickly and easily resolved, but you should also know that the incident makes it appear a growing number of people exhibit / is indicative of a growing culture of some other wild generalisation not even remotely close in scope or magnitude to the first thing. Here’s another example using the same numbers with an utterly unrelated object. Therefore, some subset of people I feel poorly about are unreasonable, helpless, entitled, lacking common sense, irrational, douches and lazy.

homeone 5:16 pm 07 Feb 12

murraythecat said :

The pool was losing water, & to have it repaired they were requested by our pool guy to let the water level drop so the leak could be identified, but no, they wanted to use the pool over xmas (fair enough), so had to keep topping it up. Now they are refusing to pay the excess water bill. quote]

I’m a tenant but I’d be saying no to this one!

astrojax 5:00 pm 07 Feb 12

devils_advocate said :

astrojax said :

…[despite the error in handle’s punctuation]…

I tried to use an apostrophe to indicate possessive, but *it* wouldn’t let me.

dang ‘it’! how does the eagle’s nest respond to this travesty?

devils_advocate 4:53 pm 07 Feb 12

astrojax said :

…[despite the error in handle’s punctuation]…

I tried to use an apostrophe to indicate possessive, but *it* wouldn’t let me.

murraythecat 4:18 pm 07 Feb 12

It’s not just an ACT issue. We own a house interstate, & rented it out in October when we moved. By all accounts (we have friends in the street who drive past) the tenants are keeping the house in excellent condition, and for that we are grateful and would like to be good landlords. But keeping the place in excellent condition is now the problem. They are demanding (through our PM, who keeps telling us what nice ppl they are, huh????) that we fix this, fix that, mostly things that were not there or not functioning when they moved in & signed the lease (therefor effectively accepting that the 40 year old house in the condition which it was presented to them). Eg, 2 flyscreens missing. They also dont “like” the completely functional clothesline out the back (the same one that i used without probs for 2 years).. they have requested to have a hills hoist put in, at thier own expense mind, but we don’t want a hills hoist in the middle of our back lawn, which is why we have the line where it is. The pool was losing water, & to have it repaired they were requested by our pool guy to let the water level drop so the leak could be identified, but no, they wanted to use the pool over xmas (fair enough), so had to keep topping it up. Now they are refusing to pay the excess water bill. Their list of demands from the day they moved in had been overwhelming, no, we have NOT refused any of their requests (except the hills hoist), what we have said is that we can only do so much at one time, as repairs cost money, if they can be patient, eventually they will all get done, it is in our interest too of course to keep our house in good repair. Their response is to threaten to get legal advice to back up their claim to pay less rent. Not $10 or $20 mind, but $50 less a week on a $350/week house.
So are Canberra tenants selfish, maybe, but when you move in to 40 year old house & pay $350/week rent, this behaviour is completely selfish. Grr.

astrojax 3:36 pm 07 Feb 12

solution is easy – shoebox, in’t middle ‘t road…

and can i add a vote of confidence for devils_advocate [despite the error in handle’s punctuation] for the insights this poster’s comments bring..?

Mysteryman 1:10 pm 07 Feb 12

devils_advocate said :

Mysteryman said :

Thank you for your well thought out response. I’m suggesting that a single anecdotal instance of something does not indicate a trend.

NO problem at all. The OP offered a single anecdote, the rest are contained in the comments. Also, note the OP said “are canberra tenants selfish” (i.e. a question) as opposed to the statement “canberra tenants are selfish”. It’s intended to invite discussion, not present an empirical conclusion.

Not quite.

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.

And only a single anecdote to back it up.

gooday 12:28 pm 07 Feb 12

The BIG issue is that there is no transparency or accountability between the Agent, Tenant and Owner. Where’s the instruction manual on how to be a good tenant, or how to be a good owner – common sense does not apply, have you read how complicated the Tenancy Act is? Real Estate Agents don’t offer the information or services that they should for what they are getting paid. How about an online Real Estate system where all of the Tenant, Owner and Agents information is available online 24×7 – where Owners can see all communication between Tenants and Agents (keeping the Agents accountable) – 10% management fee on $500 a week rent is $2,600 a year plus letting and advertising fees…..what does this buy the owner? One inspection a year and collection of rent???…What do the Tenants get for the rent they pay (which covers the Agents fees). Coming soon is a new type of Real Estate Agency that answers all these questions and will provide ultimate transparency and accountability for Owners and Tenants….watch this space…..

JazzyJess 11:56 am 07 Feb 12

I had one landlord that used to do the repairs himself. Always poorly. What really annoyed me is that he’d turn up unannounced to do the repairs and usually bring his three young children with him. I remember one time I snapped and yelled at one of his kids for waking my sleeping baby. Needless to say we got the boot shortly after that incident.

devils_advocate 11:25 am 07 Feb 12

HenryBG said :

What’s the worst a landlord can do to a tenant?

Steal their bond by inventing excuses to keep it? How much is that going to cost?

Compare that with the nightmare of having a tenant who trashes your house and then refuses to pay rent. As a landlord you can up for thousands in repairs PLUS months of no rental income into the bargain.

I’ve had the annoyance of having to write off part of my bond more than once. But I’ve been properly shafted by a selfish, lazy, dishonest tenant once, too. There is no comparison.

Plenty of things landlords can do to make a tenant’s life hell. Default on the mortgage and have the bank enter into possession without any notice to the tenant. Sell the property during the period of the tenancy and then exercise their right to have people traipsing through the house on a saturday morning (this in particular would be a special kind of hell for me, can you imagine having to organise your hangovers around an inspection schedule?), or exercising their right to take possession for relative’s requirements. Ratcheting up the rent unreasonably based not on the market price but on the premium that any sensible person would pay to avoid having to move. Hiring stupid property managers that somehow forget the filthy condition in which the lease commenced but expect you to have the property pristine at each 6 month interval. And that’s just the stuff that is within the law. Some landlords don’t even have a basic recognition of the right to quiet enjoyment.

I could go on but it’s bringing back too many memories. However, there is a reason why people pay a premium to own rather than rent.

longshanks 10:51 am 07 Feb 12

We’ve rented a number of places both in Canberra and overseas. Mostly through agents, but also a couple of private ones. We’ve noticed a huge difference between renting in France, where the law is firmly geared towards protecting the rights of tenants, and renting here, where it seems to be more focused on the landlords. (For example, in France, there’s a thing called the “winter truce” – basically it’s illegal to evict a tenant between November and March, even is they’ve completely stopped paying rent.)

The biggest difference has got to be the property managers. Our last rental was for about 3 years – in that time we went through about 6 property managers. (Basically each inspection was with a different PM). The first property manager didn’t provide us with an inspection report, despite my asking on average twice a week, in writing, for the first 4 weeks. She also told us we could “throw out the junk that was under the house”. Turned out that under the house was meant to be locked, and that the junk belonged to the landlord!

Subsequent property managers were all very nice, young ladies, just out of school/tafe, but completely unresponsive. Half-collapsed carport threatening to damage fence and shed? No sweat, we’ll get someone out to look at it – after five weeks of phone calls and emails. The best (worst?) was when the central heating fried itself. It took them two weeks to organise a technician, then I had to take a day off work because they couldn’t let me know exactly when the techo would be there (“between 9am and 3pm”). Fair enough, I said, and waited around all day. Techo didn’t show – it turns out they’d given him the wrong address.

When we left the property I asked – again – for a copy of the initial inspection report. Surprise surprise, there wasn’t one. No record whatsoever. Still, we tidied and cleaned up and made sure everything was in good nick.

Icing on the cake: about three months after we moved out (and new tenants moved in), we got some redirected mail from the (new) property manager advising us of our upcoming inspection! I should add that this is a (supposedly) reputable outfit with offices all over Canberra.

jayskette 10:15 am 07 Feb 12

Attention all crappy landlords: To minimise potential selfish behaviour by tenants, provide them with a decent property that works AS ADVERTISED. It’s the law.

If you hold an open inspection and your property comes with what the tenants see as a doorbell, garage with lock and phone line, it is quite reasonable for said tenants to expect the doorbell, garage lock and phone line to WORK. Potential tenants don’t normally come to inspections with a Telstra technician or a locksmith. If you already KNEW the said items do not work, why weren’t they included in the condition report!

HenryBG 10:10 am 07 Feb 12

What’s the worst a landlord can do to a tenant?

Steal their bond by inventing excuses to keep it? How much is that going to cost?

Compare that with the nightmare of having a tenant who trashes your house and then refuses to pay rent. As a landlord you can up for thousands in repairs PLUS months of no rental income into the bargain.

I’ve had the annoyance of having to write off part of my bond more than once. But I’ve been properly shafted by a selfish, lazy, dishonest tenant once, too. There is no comparison.

devils_advocate 10:02 am 07 Feb 12

harvyk1 said :

As a side note, about 8 years ago I moved into a place where after a couple of weeks the garage door remote stopped working, the problem was not the batteries, so was I being unreasonable asking for the LL to repair the issue, should I have been charged $1000/wk because I asked the LL to make sure something supplied with the property was actually working?

No, this is a different situation to what is being cited by the OP. The OP is talking about dead batteries, not other causes for garage remote malfunction. The OP’s case requires common sense by the tenant, your example is different because it’s an actual maintenance problem that requires action by the landlord/rea. Don’t try to obfuscate the argument by introducing a different fact situation to try and make the conclusion look unreasonable.

devils_advocate 9:55 am 07 Feb 12

Mysteryman said :

Thank you for your well thought out response. I’m suggesting that a single anecdotal instance of something does not indicate a trend.

NO problem at all. The OP offered a single anecdote, the rest are contained in the comments. Also, note the OP said “are canberra tenants selfish” (i.e. a question) as opposed to the statement “canberra tenants are selfish”. It’s intended to invite discussion, not present an empirical conclusion.

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