Renting in Canberra – nothing but trouble?

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?


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78 Responses to Renting in Canberra – nothing but trouble?
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garner1 garner1 6:12 pm 21 Sep 10

Can the landlord evict me if they want to sell my home?

Fixed Term Agreement

If you are in a fixed term agreement the landlord cannot evict you. Like you, they are committed to the agreement.

davecdp
Once the lease is up, it becomes a periodic lease. You have to give 8 weeks notice, tenants only have to give 3 weeks. Here is the info from tenancy advice.

Periodic Agreement

If your agreement is periodic, the landlord is able to issue a notice to vacate under clause 96(1)(d) giving you 8 weeks notice to move. If you are unable to do so the landlord must seek an order from the tribunal. Only the Tribunal can order an eviction (see Tenancy Tips: Eviction in the ACT).

thehutch thehutch 5:33 pm 21 Sep 10

Without doubt there are a lot of bad property managers (and landlords)… but there are also a fair few bad tenants as well.

As a property manager (in a previous life), I found that most of the time when Tenants were unhappy, it was due to the Landlord being unreasonable… Although they might not have been acting illegally, they certainly didn’t want to act in a manner which most people would consider fair. This generally occurred when the landlord was too busy looking at short-term costs rather than the longer term benefit and won’t budge. On the flipside, when you get a tenant that is unreasonable, that also causes hell.

However, when you mix a good landlord (pro-active and reasonable), with a good tenant (pays rent, keeps the property clean & tidy) = life is good and you love dealing with those people. However sadly, there are a lot of people out there that shouldn’t own rental properties and people who can’t organise their lives in order to maintain a rental property (manage their money to pay rent etc)

In relation to property management, the main problems in the industry are that most agencies pay a pittance (hence miss out on good staff and have high turnover) and most agencies are run by sales agents who know nothing about property management, and if anything treat it with contempt (even though they need it). The other issue is the grey arears in legislation – where things are not properly defined.

thehutch thehutch 5:07 pm 21 Sep 10

Property Manager said :

davecdp said :

We have decided to sell a rental property and the tenants lease runs out in February. How much notice am i required to give them? How much notice would you (or the rest of you) recommend i give them? i know availability is at its worst just before and just after Christmas and they have been great tenants so i’m happy to make this as easy for them as i can.

You need to give them a minimum of 8 weeks written notice AFTER their lease ends, meaning they won’t necessarily be moving until some time in April, by which time the market is typically a little more tenant friendly.

Remember, they can leave at any time after their lease expires by giving you 3 weeks written notice.

I would think that 8 weeks formal notice is usually enough for a good tenant to find a new place, but you could give them the heads up a little in advance – as long as you can deal with them moving out before the 8 weeks is up if they find a great place quickly.

I was of the impression that you can provide notice during a fixed term tenancy as long as it expires after the fixed term tenancy is due to expire.

enrique enrique 4:29 pm 21 Sep 10

Property Manager said :

I am simply trying to assist all parties with professional advice.

That’s mighty altruistic of you… something in the back of my mind asks why… I’m not sure what that niggling feeling is though…

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 4:24 pm 21 Sep 10

why would you question that cost to have someone spend their entire working week looking after your rental investment?

The entire week? Looking after my investment? You make it sound like you sit there watching the house on a hidden camera, fretting all the while. Well pull the other one, it plays Holiday in Cambodia.

1. Start of tenancy. Put ad in allhomes. Watch tens of applications roll in instantly. Pretend to undertake some sort of objective assessment of which is ‘best’ (ie, discard brown people, pick the white couple with the highest two incomes and no kids.)
2. Watch rent flow into bank account. If the little spreadsheet notices a two week gap with no money, print a form letter. F*ck it, automate it with a few lines of VB and get the receptionist to stuff envelopes.
3. Once every six months, walk through house and note that there’s dust on the laundry window sill, the oven could look a bit more like it was just installed and that the grass looks a bit brown. Send a notice first if you remember. Repeat at end of lease.
4. Every eight months or so, try to hit the tenant up for a rent increase. The worst that can happen is they know their rights and say no, so what’s to lose? Just hit them up on the anniversary of the lease with an enormous increase instead, and hope they can’t find the relevant CPI figures.
5. Go to 1. Lookit, I didn’t even have to start counting on my other hand, which is free to count all the money.

None of this has changed since 2001, except it’s easier than ever thanks to allhomes and a vacancy rate tighter than a fish’s bumhole. However, property managers’ fees have doubled in the same period, because they take a percentage. The job isn’t twice as hard. You’re not adding double the value. You’re just taking double off the top, trading on fear, uncertainty and doubt that some tenant will trash the place or skip town without paying rent – which you’re utterly powerless to stop until it’s too late anyway.

And just to make sure we’re all above board here – you’re not Jazz’s missus, are you? Because if there’s one thing Rioters love, it’s astroturfers.

colourful sydney racing identity colourful sydney racing identity 4:21 pm 21 Sep 10

@ #12. I will try again.

My relevant insight is that property managers, in my experience, take up valuable oxygen that other people could breathe.

My constructive comment is that if we deprive them of oxygen there will be more to go around.

Deano Deano 4:16 pm 21 Sep 10

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

Property managers who demand 7% of a weekly rent that’s more than double what it was ten years ago for doing less work.

Which property managers are quoting 7%??? I recently had one quote me 11%!

Property Manager Property Manager 4:15 pm 21 Sep 10

#9 – Colourful Sydney…:
Your attitude is indicative of the broader problem that I am trying to provide assistance with. I don’t disagree that there are lazy property managers out there who bully and do little to assist – but show me an industry where there aren’t good and bad operators. I’m sure you could offer some thoughtful and relevant insights to the issues faced by tenants that would help everyone understand things better, but instead your comment offers nothing constructive – you really are missing an opportunity to add something of value.

#10 – Enrique:
I agree with all of your comments, but while an internet forum is not substitute for either being properly informed as a self-manager or engaging a professional, I am simply trying to assist all parties with professional advice. The last thing I want is to push people away from professional management (I’ll be out of a job), but trying to minimise the incidence of unnecessary conflict doesn’t seem like a disservice to anyone. Further, I want to demonstrate that there are professionals in the industry who know what they are doing and aren’t afraid to actually do some work.

#11 – Trix:
Probably true, but there’s plenty of reasons why investors choose to self manage – many of these reasons revolve around numerous bad experiences with previous agents. I too believe that owning an investment property is in fact a business; but it’s worth remembering that on the other side it is someone’s home.

Rangi Rangi 3:59 pm 21 Sep 10

Property Manager said :

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

Assuming you already have a full time job, why would you question that cost to have someone spend their entire working week looking after your rental investment?

Now I don’t think you would spend your whole week looking after my property for $150, I am almost sure you would devote some of the week to looking after one or two other peoples properties.

After years of managing our property ourselves we have switched to a manager and it is worth every cent to do away with the hassle of monitoring rent, etc

trix trix 3:58 pm 21 Sep 10

To be honest, if you are a landlord and you have no clue how much notice you should be giving your tenants, you should probably get out of the game.

Too many people think they can make a quick buck, or it’s an easy form of investment. But you do have to follow the law. Not every Tom, Dick and Harry can be a company director – you have fiduciary obligations, and ignorance is no defence. As far as I’m concerned, owning rental property is no different to running a small company.

enrique enrique 3:54 pm 21 Sep 10

LANDLORDS (i.e. davecdp)

If you’re a landlord and you’re coming to a public internet forum/chat room for legal advice then you deserve all the trouble you end up with.

First, read this… http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1997-84/default.asp

If it’s too much for you to understand then get a property manager.

If your property manager isn’t able to deal with issues/problems for you then why are you paying them? Get a new property manager.

If all else fails, pay a solicitor.

Why mess around when you’re dealing with investments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars?

TENANTS

If you think you’re being “kept in the dark” don’t sit around and do nothing…

First, read this… http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1997-84/default.asp

And the stuff here… http://www.ors.act.gov.au/rentalbonds/WebPages/rentalbonds_publications.html

These people are here to help… http://www.tenantsact.org.au/

ALL

Tenants and Landlords are both parties to a legally binding agreement. Take a bit of time to inform yourselves of the terms & conditions of your agreement and your rights & responsibilities. Read the legislation. If it’s too hard to understand seek professional advice.

colourful sydney racing identity colourful sydney racing identity 3:54 pm 21 Sep 10

In my experience as a tennant property managers do not “spend their entire working week looking after (a) rental investment”.

They do the absolute minimum. They are A grade bullies to tennants and take up valuable oxygen that other people could breathe.

Property Manager Property Manager 3:44 pm 21 Sep 10

Genie said :

Based on your example of 7% a property that takes in a rent of $2712.60 per month ($500pw)

I think your maths is off.

Wasn’t aware of a month being 5 1/2 weeks.

Sorry, a typo – $2172.62 is the monthly figure.

Genie Genie 3:18 pm 21 Sep 10

Based on your example of 7% a property that takes in a rent of $2712.60 per month ($500pw)

I think your maths is off.

Wasn’t aware of a month being 5 1/2 weeks.

rosscoact rosscoact 3:15 pm 21 Sep 10

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

What issues are you facing with your Canberra rental property?

Property managers who demand 7% of a weekly rent that’s more than double what it was ten years ago for doing less work.

I pay 10% and have no problem with it.

davecdp davecdp 3:09 pm 21 Sep 10

Thanks for the advice.

Property Manager Property Manager 3:08 pm 21 Sep 10

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

What issues are you facing with your Canberra rental property?

Property managers who demand 7% of a weekly rent that’s more than double what it was ten years ago for doing less work.

Based on your example of 7% a property that takes in a rent of $2712.60 per month ($500pw) would cost a tick over $150/month in agent fees; a cost which is tax deductible. Assuming you already have a full time job, why would you question that cost to have someone spend their entire working week looking after your rental investment?

If you don’t think that’s value for money you need to find an agent that is actually worth the money they are being paid. I’m not going to target any particular agents, but there are good and bad as in most industries. The bad ones make it harder for the rest of us to impress – and some of us relish that challenge.

Property Manager Property Manager 3:00 pm 21 Sep 10

davecdp said :

We have decided to sell a rental property and the tenants lease runs out in February. How much notice am i required to give them? How much notice would you (or the rest of you) recommend i give them? i know availability is at its worst just before and just after Christmas and they have been great tenants so i’m happy to make this as easy for them as i can.

You need to give them a minimum of 8 weeks written notice AFTER their lease ends, meaning they won’t necessarily be moving until some time in April, by which time the market is typically a little more tenant friendly.

Remember, they can leave at any time after their lease expires by giving you 3 weeks written notice.

I would think that 8 weeks formal notice is usually enough for a good tenant to find a new place, but you could give them the heads up a little in advance – as long as you can deal with them moving out before the 8 weeks is up if they find a great place quickly.

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 2:47 pm 21 Sep 10

What issues are you facing with your Canberra rental property?

Property managers who demand 7% of a weekly rent that’s more than double what it was ten years ago for doing less work.

davecdp davecdp 2:33 pm 21 Sep 10

We have decided to sell a rental property and the tenants lease runs out in February. How much notice am i required to give them? How much notice would you (or the rest of you) recommend i give them? i know availability is at its worst just before and just after Christmas and they have been great tenants so i’m happy to make this as easy for them as i can.

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