As a tenant, what can you realistically push back on?

PlasticScene 27 August 2018 5

Ask RiotACT

Hi Rioters,

I’d like to start a discussion on a particular subject – I have been renting for a little bit too long, and I have felt irritated and frustrated by the (seeming) imbalance between tenant and landlord.

Just for example, I lived in a home without functioning heating or cooling for nearly two months (it was broken when we moved in) that took nearly two months to get the repair completed (it was “under warranty” and the repair company that held the warranty didn’t seem in a rush to fix it). Also, moved in during a heatwave only to discover the pool was green with algae and completely unusable (it was cleaned 10 days later after the heatwave subsided).

Meanwhile, even with hassles such as this on the part of the tenant, I cannot help but feel that property managers, and by extension, landlords, expect the sun, moon, and stars from their tenants. Especially upon move-out.

Things I have been subject to: inspections every three months (allowed in NSW but still onerous); having to call a second professional cleaner (at extra expense) because the first cleaning company did an “inferior job” for the move-out clean; being asked to allow contractors to come in to prepare an estimate for work the owners want to do after we move out (after being told we are being booted because the owners are returning); making a special trip to Bunnings to replace a SINGLE light globe because one had blown when we were moving out; being asked to return a cheap set of shelves that was left in the garage by the owners (we never asked them to) that our movers accidentally moved; being taken to task for a garden that was not immaculately clear of all weeds even though we had utilized a gardener; being asked to take measurements to determine what furniture will fit when the owners return; allowing a contractor in for 4 1/2 hours (7 am start time) at request of the owner for a repair the owners wanted to be completed prior to their move-in date; et cetera.

I don’t mind helping out, but I feel that I’m always on the back foot; being nice and accommodating when the favour is rarely repaid–because the landlords and property managers rarely do the same for us and rarely seem to cut tenants much slack.

So, what do you all think? What sort of ridiculous requests have you been subjected to when renting? Do we really have to make our home available for inspection every three months? What sorts of requests or demands have you felt comfortable pushing back on? How or why?

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5 Responses to As a tenant, what can you realistically push back on?
Grimm Grimm 4:07 pm 28 Aug 18

Most of the reason I got rid of my IPs and won’t invest in another was tenants with a sense of entitlement.

Nothing there is onerous. Inspections are part of the agreement you signed. Being asked to leave the place properly cleaned isn’t asking too much. Allowing contractors in for maintenance is in your agreement. Fittings and fixtures all to be working (including lights) if they were when you moved in is in your agreement. Removing property that was not yours is stealing. Maintaining the garden is part of your agreement.

If you don’t like the terms, buy your own place and do what you like with it. Otherwise, abide by the terms of the agreement you signed and stop whining.

Maya123 Maya123 2:41 pm 28 Aug 18

I have been a tenant, but had no problems, only compliments for how the place was kept.

PlasticScene wrote, “I lived in a home without functioning heating or cooling for nearly two months (it was broken when we moved in) that took nearly two months to get the repair completed (it was “under warranty” and the repair company that held the warranty didn’t seem in a rush to fix it).”
If you had been the owner living there you would have had the same problem with the repair company, re warranty. Unfortunate, but it happens. If it is under warranty it appears your landlords had put in a new heating/cooling system, so they weren’t scrimping there. As you mention it was a heat wave when you moved in, fixing the heating wasn’t urgent. Was it fixed before the next winter? I also used to have a rental property and the hot water system needed to be replaced. Fortunately it was got functional before the company went into receivership, so the tenants had hot water. But I had to deal with the receivers to get the job tidied up. So I understand problems can happen.
When you inspected the property you must have seen the state of the pool. Did you say anything then? What was the reply as to when it would be cleaned?
Did you use the agent’s recommendation to clean the place? Or just choose the cheapest? Likely safest to go with the agent’s recommendation.
A single blown light bulb! You can buy light bulbs in supermarkets too. Doesn’t sound big enough to complain about.
If the garden had weeds, that’s something you should have taken up with your gardener. If no weeds, supply photographs to prove it was left tidy and your landlord is being unreasonable.

    PlasticScene PlasticScene 4:45 pm 22 Jan 19

    I only just saw your response now.

    The pool was clean during the inspection and had been allowed to go algal by the time we moved in.

    We were never told that using the agent’s recommendation was required. However, even when we did, their cleaning was determined unsatisfactory and they were called back to clean the most minor (nitpicky) things.

    I have moved INTO properties with several blown globes, yet am held to a very high standard upon move out and expected to run to the store to purchase a single globe (as if being forced to move out when the owners decide to return to Canberra isn’t bad or inconvenient enough to me; this was the very same property where the pool was ALGAL when we moved in.) Where is the fairness of that?

    The garden had very, very few weeds. In fact, at the request of the property manager we had hired a professional gardener. My point is that the standards of the property managers are too high when even expensive PROFESSIONAL cleaners’ and gardeners’ work is deemed substandard.

    The same HIGH standard is NOT maintained for responding to basic maintenance requests (including urgent repairs like A/C during a heat wave and nonfunctional things like kitchen drawers, pantry doors, etc.). In my experience it’s a double standard that is not in tenant’s favour.

Peter Kelley Peter Kelley 11:39 am 28 Aug 18

If you are going to push back you need to be reading the residential tenancies act backwards and forwards and be prepared to take them to ACAT if necessary. That being said some of those don’t seem too bad compared to some of the things I have experienced in the past (try open house every weekend then being blamed when the property didn’t sell or property managers ringing my wife’s work and asking if she keeps her house clean).

I feel that if property managers treat tenants with disrespect how do they expect tenants to respect the property?

    JC JC 4:35 pm 28 Aug 18

    They said they were in NSW. ACAT Won’t be much help.

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