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Renting in Canberra – nothing but trouble?

By Property Manager 21 September 2010 78

for lease

There’s been plenty of previous discussion on RA around issues for renters in Canberra. There are plenty of stories of tenants who are kept in the dark about their rights, or treated by their landlords or property managers as second class citizens. 

On the other side there’s plenty of times when a landlord either has issues with their tenant, chosen agent, or when self managing they have no one to turn to for advice – sometimes leading to poor decisions which can create unwanted conflict with the tenants. No one is perfect, and it’s always tough to manage conflicting priorities that involve someone’s home.

Who’s offering to help? Tenant’s Advice Service can be useful if you can catch them during their limited availbility (and only if you’re a tenant!), the tribunal will give you a definite answer after taking your time, money and giving you a headful of frustration. Why are there no other places for people to turn when they are dealing with these issues?

I’ve been in property management for a while now and I wouldn’t dream of saying that I know it all or that I’ve seen it all… but I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. What issues are you facing with your Canberra rental property?

What’s Your opinion?


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Renting in Canberra – nothing but trouble?
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Property Manager 10:42 am 06 Oct 10

#77: What you are describing is a significant breach of the Agents Act (local) and the Trade Practices Act (federal).

It should be noted that most property managers will seek to develop good working relationships with contractors. As far as cost savings go this should be to the benefit of the client only, there shouldn’t be any cash finding its way back to the agent. The benefit that the agent is seeking (which is for the good of all involved) is engaging a contractor that can be relied on for pricing, reliability, warranty and overall attitude. We regularly call them “our” contractor, mostly because we have worked at developing this professional relationship, we trust them and engage them regularly, not because we receive any tangible value from engaging them.

In my experience there’s enough work out there for most of the contractors so the last thing they need to do is start paying to get the work.

2604 10:55 pm 01 Oct 10

Property manager, what is your view on property managers / RE agencies receiving rebates or commissions (ie kickbacks) from contractors who they hire on their clients’ behalf to undertake repairs? IE in situations where a rental property requires repairs which are arranged by the PM, do you think that the contractor doing the repairs should be allowed to give commissions to the PM? And do you think that the owner should be informed of such commissions/kickbacks?

Are you able to tell us how often this happens in Canberra, in your experience?

Thanks in advance, 2604

DIYProperty 10:06 am 01 Oct 10

Re #55

Buzz2600 said:

“Anyway, the other thing is having a source of local investment info. Knowing where/what is the best place to buy/rent/sell etc – future investment options etc. I’d appreciate a property manager/advisor who was able to answer questions without them having a vested interest in a particular property … it that too much to ask for? I know that I can find all this information for researching the market, asking accountants, financial advisors, property investment groups/mags/online etc.. and I do all that but its time consuming and having a one-stop shop from someone in the real estate industry with some ethics would be great “

Is what you are looking for perhaps a buyers agent, like they have in NSW and QLD?

I own a number of investment properties in the ACT and have self-managed them for almost 20 years.

I am also a qualified accountant and recommend buying in suburbs with high capital growth…the 2 bedroom townhouses and apartments seem to be the best investment in Canberra. Happy to elaborate if there is interest…

essfer 11:09 am 30 Sep 10

Chop71 said :

I have a solution

Stop renting and buy your 1st home.

Do the odd improvement and move up the property ladder.

(or you can whinge for another year and remain in the same situation)

Thank God you’re here Chop. With brilliant advice like that hopefully all us renters will see the light and go out this weekend to buy our first home. I assume you’re ponying up the deposit/stamp duty/mortgage that most of us are killing ourselves trying to scrape together over a matter of years in an overpriced rental market?

Really, thank you for your words of inspiration. I’m sure we all feel better knowing that you’re out there with all the answers. I look forward to reading your response defending your comment by explaining to all of us how easy it REALLY is to get into the market… on your planet.

el 7:45 am 30 Sep 10

Property Manager said :

About 95% of tenants think they are a better tenant than the ‘average tenant’ – this is statistically impossible and unfortunately leads people to think they are being mistreated when in fact they are reaping what they have sown.

Good to see “Property Manager’ is now finally showing his/her true colours – tenants ‘reaping what they have sown’ indeed. Sounds like you are exactly the same as the ‘standard’ petty, arrogant, and ignorant property manager that’s been alluded to in this thread so many times already. Congratulations!

Property Manager said :

No doubt there are many agents that are so jaded and crusty that it won’t matter what you do, but assuming that your agent is as incompetant, lazy and rude as your previous encounters is as unfair as them treating you like a second class citizen just because you are a tenant.

Discrimination is a bitch when the shoe is on the other foot, isn’t it?

Chop71 10:38 am 29 Sep 10

I have a solution

Stop renting and buy your 1st home.

Do the odd improvement and move up the property ladder.

(or you can whinge for another year and remain in the same situation)

Property Manager 8:58 am 29 Sep 10

#69: Thanks for the positive response GG. There’s plenty of negative experiences raised here, so always good to hear that someone is actually getting the service they’re seeking.

Property Manager 8:54 am 29 Sep 10

caf said :

About 95% of tenants think they are a better tenant than the ‘average tenant’ – this is statistically impossible and unfortunately leads people to think they are being mistreated when in fact they are reaping what they have sown. By and large it is the general attitude, cooperativeness and level of expectation that leaves a lasting impression on your property manager.

Actually, it’s not statistically impossible. Remeber, 99% of people have more than the average number of legs.

Also: What proportion of property managers do you suppose believe that they are better than the “average PM”?

Touche.

Given the broad belief (which is largely justified) that there are so many property managers who just don’t care there is probably not as many who think they are the business. The real question is, how many can actually back their claim?

caf 2:48 pm 28 Sep 10

About 95% of tenants think they are a better tenant than the ‘average tenant’ – this is statistically impossible and unfortunately leads people to think they are being mistreated when in fact they are reaping what they have sown. By and large it is the general attitude, cooperativeness and level of expectation that leaves a lasting impression on your property manager.

Actually, it’s not statistically impossible. Remeber, 99% of people have more than the average number of legs.

Also: What proportion of property managers do you suppose believe that they are better than the “average PM”?

georgesgenitals 1:56 pm 28 Sep 10

Property Manager – thanks for bringing this discussion along. Lots of bad experiences here.

I’ve used property managers for investmment properties before and had quite good experiences.

Property Manager 1:13 pm 28 Sep 10

Grail, you sound like a brilliant landlord. Without going in to detail on a lot of what you said, I did want to respond to part of it…

I know there are agents treating good people like crap and I’m sorry that happens, but before you decide whether your agent is one of them, consider this:

About 95% of tenants think they are a better tenant than the ‘average tenant’ – this is statistically impossible and unfortunately leads people to think they are being mistreated when in fact they are reaping what they have sown. By and large it is the general attitude, cooperativeness and level of expectation that leaves a lasting impression on your property manager.

Many tenants manage to overlook that they are guilty of the same things that you accuse us of failing on – returning phone calls, keeping appointments and promises, general politeness, a willingness to cooperate and so on. It seems (at times) that you hold the property manager to a higher standard than you hold yourself to.

Paying the rent on time and caring for the property as if it were your own are a great start. Want to know how to be a great tenant though? Be a great person. Property managers have to deal with a lot of BS (bad landlords, bad tenants, bad contractors… I could go on for ages) so any time we can deal with someone that is pleasant and makes our day easier just through their attitude is an absolute blessing.

No doubt there are many agents that are so jaded and crusty that it won’t matter what you do, but assuming that your agent is as incompetant, lazy and rude as your previous encounters is as unfair as them treating you like a second class citizen just because you are a tenant.

S4anta 12:18 pm 28 Sep 10

“but show me an industry where there aren’t good and bad operators”… Suicide Bombers

Property Manager 11:55 am 28 Sep 10

#64: As was explained by Grail @#65, the reason you are expected to leave the bins empty and clean is the same as the reason why you are expected to leave the house in the same manner. Like most things requested at Final Inspection, there is a standard set to make sure everyone gets the same thing when they move in.

If you got to your new place and the former tenants left the bins full then you’d have nowhere for the packing materials that you’ve just unpacked. You got empty bins when you moved in, give the same back. Even though you HAVE TO do it, it really is a matter of courtesy.

Grail 12:41 pm 27 Sep 10

I use a property manager to manage my property since I had been renting to friends. Having a greater-than-arm’s-length relationship on the property side meant that when stuff broke (eg: hot water service going pop) my friend could deal with the property manager, who was paid to deal with this type of situation.

I just pay 8%, and don’t lose time from my WoW raids 😉

On the flip side, some property managers treat tenants as children, mostly because so many tenants act like children. It seems that renting a property suddenly means you don’t have to care for it, and you can just abuse the landlord/manager every time the curtains break (because you used the curtains as a dog toy), the dishwasher breaks (because you didn’t scrape the leftovers off your plate before putting them in the dishwasher), or the floor floods (because you put a full dose of top loader detergent into your own front loading washing machine).

The worst people to rent to are the dual-income no-kids 20-30yo white couples, they seem to be the most “entitled” of the lot. They’ll spout about their rights at the drop of a hat, but perish the thought of reminding them of their obligations and responsibilities!

As for #64 — requiring bins to be emptied and cleaned — the moving-out rubbish is really the realm of skip hire or equivalent. Council bins are only intended for regular domestic rubbish. Leaving the household bins empty and clean is simply a health issue: you’d be a little upset if an agent wanted you to move into a place where the bins were full of rotting food and cockroaches, wouldn’t you? It can take more than a week to move new tenants in, which is time that you (whether you are the owner or the new tenant) don’t want the bins having rubbish in them.

I’ve moved house about every four years on average. I have no problems leaving the bins empty, even if I need to ask neighbours to put my rubbish in their bins for the week until the next council collection. In two cases I’ve taken my rubbish with me to my new place. There’s nothing that makes me feel like I’ve actually finished moving in to a new place quite like the first bin day.

TL;DR: what gives the property manager the right to demand empty bins? The same thing that gives you as a prospective tenant the right to expect a habitable property.

redally 4:08 pm 24 Sep 10

“All garbage bins emptied and washed clean”

I do not understand this request some agents list for the final inspection.
When a tenant moves out this is just the time when they most need the use of their rubbish bins, which is included in the rent they pay.
Another point I would like to make is that these bins belong to the council and not the property, so what gives property managers the right to demand empty bins?

caf 12:44 pm 24 Sep 10

Jurls: I’ve got to agree on that. The last time I was looking for a rental property, I stopped even considering any that were rented by LJ Hooker, because the personal details they were asking for just went beyond the pale.

When you ask for the make, model, color and rego of my car, you’ve crossed the creepiness line, and I’m not going to deal with you.

Thumper 11:19 am 24 Sep 10

got to admit that, after years of managing our own property, ms thumper and i decided to be lazy and give it over to an agent.

big mistake which in the end cost us a fair bit of money. talk about promis the earth and deliver nothing.

needless to say we’re managing it ourselves again. and with no troubles.

essfer 9:58 am 24 Sep 10

niknak said :

I would rather chew off my own arm that entrust a property manager with care and control of my investment property. I’ve used three different managers from three different agencies in the past, and all came up short. Somehow, in this very tight market, each manager managed to find questionable tennants for the property.

– Tenant 1 brought along a kelpie, which chewed the window coverings, ripped up the small courtyard garden and irritated the neighbours by barking incessantly. Although I had specified no dogs,the PM expected me to “show sympathy” for the tenant and the mangy mutt.

– Tenant 2 (supplied by PM2)lied about employment status and didn’t pay the rent for 6 weeks before the PM stepped in. And that was only because I insisted. Apparently it’s considered fair and reasonable to allow 8 weeks to lapse before chasing missed rent. Um, no. It’s not.

– Tenant 3 (supplied by PM3) turned out to be a student group of anywhere between 4 and 8 people (again, I’d specified no groups) who set up rice and noodle cooking facilities in both bedrooms. The person who signed the lease didn’t actually live there. Thank heavens it was only a 6 month lease.

I now manage both our investment properties myself. I choose my tenants and vet them to my satisfaction. I’ve had absolutely no problems at all. I’m a happy landlord, my tenants are happy in their homes. I charge below market rates to keep good tenants in place. I would never use a property manager again. I put property managers on a par with parking inspectors and used car salesmen.

Looks like the agents ballsed up and picked three bad tenants in a row, which I guess is much the same as you picking three shit agents in a row. If only those crystal balls worked you could’ve avoided all of this.

Why were the agents choosing your tenants anyway? Shouldn’t you have the final decision?

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