Think long-term when making decisions as a landlord

Julie Cumming

Cutting corners to save some cash might seem like a good idea, but denying every reasonable request from your tenants could cost you in the long run.

Blogger: Julie Cumming, director, Hatch Property

Finding rental accommodation can be challenging and fraught with frustration. I recently heard about a young woman who, having graduated from university, was ready to start work and apply for a two-bedroom unit rental in Gladesville, Sydney.

She was the successful applicant, and while she made her application at the first inspection, as the property was not air-conditioned she asked if it was possible to ask the landlord to consider installing it. The agent replied, “They are really lovely people. I don’t think that will be a problem”. The lease was signed and the owners were asked about the air conditioner a couple of days later. The answer was no.

She moved in, top floor of a three-storey walk-up, and shortly after, went about setting up online access. She had additional online study to do and wanted a good internet service.

It took several visits from Telstra to establish that the phone outlet in the living room was faulty and the only one that worked was next to the bed in the main bedroom. The tenant was not prepared to sleep with her head near a modem. The cost to fix this was about $100.

The tenant phoned the agency to ask for approval while the technician was there. However, the agent did not answer and did not call back. She emailed the real estate agency, asking for the repair to be approved so she could have her internet installed. This process took more than five weeks as the agent took a long time to respond to emails, and then the owners came back refusing to fix it. They said the connection in the bedroom worked and the tenant could use that. 

Now, while legislation comes into play here, I can feel the utter frustration of this tenant’s plight of not having access to Wi-Fi in her home, and an owner refusing to fix an old faulty phone jack. This is the owner the agent assured the tenant prior to signing the lease, was “really co-operative and easy-going”. The time taken to discuss this with the agent, to leave work to meet the technician several times and simply not having the normal services we have come to expect, can chew through a great deal of personal emotional energy. The problem could also be rectified by the tenant just paying to fix it. But why should they?

There is scope here for some good advice from the property manager to advise the landlord that if the tenant leaves after the initial six-month lease, they are up for another letting fee and some potential vacancy, and it’s likely the same request from the next tenant will occur. They could also remind them of the relevant legislation and their responsibility to provide safe services in the property.

This comes back to good property management training and understanding the responsibilities of all parties, and having some “courageous conversations” when necessary.

Julie Cumming

Julie Cumming

Based in Melbourne, Julie has been actively working in the property arena for over 12 years in diverse roles ranging from Shopping Centre Manager and Commercial Property Manager to a qualified Investment Property Buyers’ Agent with a focus and expertise in the Brisbane market. 

Her experience in such mixed roles has given her a unique and broad property experience where she has identified opportunities within niche areas in the residential and commercial markets and developed services to meet those needs. Julie is a qualified property investment adviser (QPIA) accredited by PIPA, a licensed Real Estate agent in ACT, Victoria and Queensland. 

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Think long-term when making decisions as a landlord
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