Geoff White and the REIV - judge, jury and executioner

Geoff White and the REIV -  judge, jury and executioner

My rebuttal to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria’s CEO Geoff White and recent commentary in: The Real Estate Conversation. Wednesday, September 7, 2016.

As I read White’s current article on Non-payment of rent a key focus in Victoria, I began to wonder if, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria’s CEO Geoff White and the REIV, believe they are nothing less than: Judge, Jury and Executioner?

 This is as they lobby the State Government to implement changes. Changes that come across as nothing less than blatant, blanket attacks on residential tenants.

This comes about as the Real Estate Institutes (REI’s) fail to take charge of the real and underlying problem, passing the blame on to others.

In actual fact, the real issue is: the inadequacies of their members and other Real Estate Agents (REA) to perform a task, agencies are paid to do.

As I read White’s commentary, I find myself ordering a double short black to calm my nerves.

Many of you will know, I don’t let comments or suggestions made by my fellow REA slide; particularly commentary that shifts the blame to the consumers. Although and strangely enough, many of my colleagues do keep silent. 

Not me, I won’t be silent on what can be fundamentally viewed as a push by bullies to hide the present inadequacies of the real estate industry, even if they are REI members.

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White’s dialogue comes across to me more as a desperate attempt to make property management tasks easier, and at the predicament of others. In this case the losers are both; tenants and landlords. Explained in detail below: 

Although I’m a member of the REINSW, I cannot stand alongside my peers in this matter. Particularly as a move to introduce two objectionable changes:

·      Reduce the period for falling into rental arrears, from 14 days to seven days; and 

·      Introduce a pet bond to cover any damage caused by pets in rental homes.

Hey! REIV and Mr CEO, please ask yourselves these simple questions:

1)   Why do most tenants fall in arrears in the first instance?

a.    Is it perhaps and because Property Managers (PM) don’t follow up, or communicate effectively with their tenants from the start?

b.    Maybe because, most property management teams don’t implement proactive measures to monitor arrears?

c.    To some, it’s easier to write a termination notice than it is to contact, call, email and help tenants monitor their arrears.

God forbid that we should take Property Manager’s precious time away from their Facebook and Pokemon hunting adventures - let me explain.

2)   Why have so many offices lost the skilled Property Managers who knew how to manage?

a.    A cheaper option came along. Many Licensees, replaced the seasoned PM with teenagers that, in the most part, couldn’t even manage a Pokemon Roundup in the CBD of Melbourne or Sydney.

Reducing office costs by reducing expert staff to reduce wages was always a disaster waiting to happen Nevertheless, many property management offices have chosen this path.

3)   Do you seriously want to introduce a pet-bond?

a.    Again, if Property Managers were actually managing properly, there would be less property issues around the so called “pet-issues.”

b.    This will be an administrative nightmare and additional burden put on offices. No doubt the costs involved will be passed on to landlords.

c.    This will only create more cases to be heard in the tribunals and further cost for landlords.

We have and still do manage numerous properties across Sydney that are “pet-friendly.” I can say categorically, that over the years we have had few claims for damage caused by pets - with the small number of instances being worked out amicably between both parties.

Furthermore, our team manages many apartments that are pet-friendly and the proven formula is habitually performing routine inspections as prescribed by the Regulations.

I say “habitually performing” because, over the years we have inherited many property management files from other agencies. What we have found to be the most common and obvious issues landlords have had with these agencies are:

·      Next to nil periodic inspections. In some cases, properties have gone up to 2 years, without an inspection. 

·      Enormous costs in repairs due to mismanagement of property.

Mr White, don’t punish tenants for the shortcomings of the real estate industry. 

The true problem is lack of education and the prevalence of unskilled agents managing property. Agencies are trying to run property management teams that are untrained and under skilled - expecting that they will be able to have a proper dialogue with tenants and be able to resolve issues.  

I strongly feel that the call to introduce the above directives, will have the reverse effect; property managers will just become lazier, rather than work harder to manage the homes for their landlords. In turn, there will be greater levels of arrears and so called issues with pets, before the tribunal. All, at the expense of their landlords.

My Warning to the real estate industry

 A warning to property managers and the industry:

Don’t be too hasty to judge tenants that fall in arrears and others that have pets. Make it a point to communicate more with tenants and be more empathetic on all sides, before laying down the law. It will work out cheaper for your landlords in the long-run.

No, I’m not advocating for tenants to run a muck in both rental arrears, and damage caused by pets. The better avenue is communication rather than loss of time and money. Hanging around tribunals, is a loss of time and money for all parties concerned.

Furthermore, we are about to turn a corner. We are heading into a realm where tenants will have greater choices, as vacancy rates skyrocket.

Isn’t it a better option to:

1)   Attract a greater pool of tenants with pets, and get an extra $10- $20 per week? Or do you prefer to scare people off with a pet-bond of $500, $800 or $1000 as an upfront payment?

In my opinion, not even $1000 covers the damage caused by “bad-management”, that leads to most tribunal hearings in the first place.

2)   In the looming and upcoming oversupply of rental property, how long can your landlords keep their properties vacant?

You be the judge, but please, please refrain from your blanket attack on tenants; this is in no way assisting landlords.   

Last but no means least, be mindful that insurance companies are not keen on paying out claims that lack documentation and proper level of service by agencies. Just like trying to claim on a car accident; when it is noted that the car had four bald tyres and the driver is a “P” plater.   

 

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