The standard answer to this question would perhaps be showing and leasing property; conducting routine inspections; handling maintenance and arrears; attending to entry condition reports and vacate inspections; plus all the other minor items that are part and parcel of managing residential property.
But these days it seems that more and more often we are being asked or expected to be, qualified tradespeople; counsellors; interior decorators; debt collectors; cleaners – and more. And sometimes this can present a whole new set of problems!
When we conduct routine inspections it’s mainly to see that a property is being well maintained. But we always look for other things at the same time. For example, are the correct number of people living at the property; is the tenant keeping pets there without approval; plus we always consider what future maintenance may be necessary – blinds or carpet replacement in 1-2 years time or even a possible kitchen/bathroom renovation that may need to be budgeted for. All these things can easily be identified as they only require a visual inspection. But often we are asked if the wiring is ok at a property; can we check whether the advice a plumber gave is correct; or how can an external wall now have a crack line? I’m sure most property managers are not qualified to answer these questions and they would actually be foolish if they did give an opinion. We are simply not qualified to identify or recognise these problems, only licensed tradespeople can handle these things appropriately.
Our department looks at any rent arrears on a daily basis. This is extremely important to monitor closely, otherwise things can very easily get out of control. But there comes a point when we are unable to do anything further to recover outstanding rent. Then we must issue Notices when they are due and we can certainly apply to VCAT when all else fails. However VCAT will only issue an Order for compensation from a tenant. They can’t enforce the Order and a property manager can’t enforce an Order either. Fortunately we don’t attend VCAT very often, but in some instances we have been asked to pursue the tenants and recover the rent after the VCAT Hearing and we aren’t licensed to do this and certainly not qualified. There are lots of things that we’d like to do to recover rent – unfortunately none of those solutions are legal!!!
It could be a sign of the times we live in, but more and more tenants seem to be experiencing problems within their relationships or marriages. Tenants regularly try to include us in their marital problems and the level of those discussions always amazes us! It seems as if because we have a relationship already with the tenants, through handling their applications and financial information etc., plus the process of discussing maintenance or arrears, that they assume this extends into discussing their personal issues. We often wonder if because they pay rent to us, that includes free advice on managing their budget, how to raise their children, how to handle a difficult mother-in-law or even a difficult, or wayward, spouse! It makes for interesting listening, but we are certainly not qualified or actually willing to be involved in their personal problems – apart from working with them to ensure the rent is paid on time!
We are often asked if we can ‘project manage’ a renovation and while we aren’t qualified interior decorators we can certainly help out with this if it’s basic items that need to be replaced. Selecting tiles and other materials can be a little risky, as we could have very different taste to the property owner – and that could possible create a major issue. But we can certainly assist with small renovation items such as replacing blinds, curtains or carpets. In these situations – neutral is always best!
While most tenants will leave their rental premises clean and tidy, sometimes people will forget to do certain things or simply think they’ll ‘get away’ without cleaning some items. As a result, our property managers all have cleaning kits in their vehicles and will certainly attend to minor cleaning if/when necessary. This can remove the time required to get the tenant back and certainly avoids having professional cleaners in with added expense for a tenant or even an owner. We aren’t above getting our hands dirty and most times it’s just more efficient and quicker to do minor cleaning, or even weeding, ourselves!
So we do wear a number of different hats during the course of managing a property for our clients. And I guess the message is that we don’t just ‘manage property’ – we actually care how we look after the properties under our control, the tenants we put in place, and certainly the owners who have given us the responsibility of managing their investment. There is more to ‘managing property’ than what that term traditionally means!
If you’d like the dedicated team at Investors Direct Property Management to take care of your property, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org