We’ve kept the rent low, gifted our property managers and tenants with presents at Christmas.
But enough’s enough – it’s time to let go.
I’ve learnt the hard way that a bad property manager can cost you thousands.
And putting up with a bad egg for months, perhaps years, will cost you even more.
But today, I finally admitted enough’s enough.
It wasn’t going to get any better, so I sent them the dreaded break-up letter.
Breaking up is never easy
Whether it’s with a boyfriend, girlfriend or a property manager.
Then comes the awkward follow-up call where it’s already too late and you know it’s over, followed by the notice to end a lease agreement with them.
Unlike a real relationship though, you have to give 90 days’ notice in Queensland.
Talk about awkward.
So we’re stuck with the same property manager for another 90 days.
It seems like a very long time after a very awkward conversation.
Here’s what happened.
After just giving birth eight months ago there were numerous missed calls on my phone.
Between waking up every two hours, dealing with about 10,000 visitors a day and coming to terms with a new life that totally depended on me, the rental vacancy we had at one of our properties wasn’t high on the priority list.
During this time, my property manager did find someone.
They had no rental history (red flag number one) and the family was living in a room together at a friend’s place (red flag number two).
Still, I was told they seemed like very nice people and they simply didn’t have a rental history because they had just moved back overseas. ‘What the heck’, I thought, on my 20 seconds of downtime.
The problems started straight away
The rent never came in.
Then notification they had gone from being employed, on a good wage, to suddenly unemployed with no job prospects at all.
And then finally, the runner, where they left all the trash in the front garden and left us to pick up the pieces.
“She’ll be right mate” doesn’t cut it.Here’s what I’ve learnt about having the wrong property manager.
It never gets better.
Once the rent is a day late, expect it to be a week late the next time, then a month late, and then finally, no rent at all.
If a property manager isn’t onto it at the start, you can kiss goodbye to receiving any in the long-term.
They make excuses. We were told that because the house is in a lower socio-economic area, we should almost always expect to have troublesome tenants.
“There are always problems in this area,” we were told. “You can’t expect anyone decent here.”
A property manager will make excuses about their lame tenant choice.
Just because you don’t earn a lot of money doesn’t mean you’re a bad tenant.
It’s up to a good property manager to only allow the right tenants in, i.e. ones who actually have a rental history and employment. I would never, ever allow someone in again without a rental history.
They’re not on the ball.
We were supposed to get a rental increase with our current tenants once the new lease came in.
Thanks to our old tenants doing a runner, we were in a break-lease situation.
It’s amazing how the laws always favour the tenant, not the landlord.
It meant we had to wait until the original lease was finished to be able to increase the rent.
I noticed it didn’t happen when it was supposed to, so I checked with the manager.
Unlike an email, which said a specific date and time of a rental increase, we were told the advertisement was different and so the rental increase would have to wait.
It’s so frustrating when you have to almost stalk your property manager to get answers and updates.
Isn’t the whole point of paying a property manager so you don’t have to worry about the smaller bits and pieces?
I felt like I constantly had to check up on all the details.
They don’t do what they say they will.
I don’t expect my property manager to spend their life watching over my property, but I do expect them to actually do what they say they’re going to.
When the rent never came in, my property manager mentioned she would go to the house and knock on the door to ask them what the problem was.
Today in a heated conversation with the principal of the agency, the owner of the business told me a property manager should never go to a house alone and this never would have been promised to us.
I totally agree a property manager should never go to a house alone, or feel like they have to check up on a property every second day.
But why promise to do something when you have no intention of doing it in the first place?
Here’s the problem – the property manager told us she’d gone to the house to put the hard word on the tenants. We believed her.
But then one day my husband drove past the house on his way home from work, to check the house hadn’t been trashed.
He noticed a massive blow-up pool in the backyard.
We’re not talking about a little one for the kiddies, but one big enough to swim in.
If our property manager had been doing what they promised, they would have noticed the new piece of furniture in the backyard. The water bill was exciting to receive and to pay for too!
They make you feel guilty
We always gave our property manager and tenants small presents at Christmas.
We’ve always kept the rent low on our properties and paid for repair jobs and maintenance straight away.
In fact, all of our tenants had air conditioning in their property before we did in our own principal place of residence!
Crazy isn’t it?
My husband and I often joke about how they’re all living a life of luxury with low rent, air conditioning, instant repairs and new anything-they-ask-for while we lie under a fan in summer.
So why is it then, as a hard working property owner, you’re sometimes made to feel like a ‘greedy owner’?
This was never really said to us, it was just the impression I got when I chased up a rental statement with zero income.
It became almost embarrassing to ring the office.
I felt like the money-hungry landlord, screaming, “where is my money?”
No turning back. So today, I sent the email.
And after that, you know there’s no going back.
But hopefully it’s just one small hiccup and on a positive note, at least the tax return for that property will be good this year.