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Not all business is good business

We spend so much time at work, we spend so much money in business and we all know life is short.

A senior property manager recently told me about a prospective new client landlord who was belligerent and difficult to deal with from the get go. She wisely advised it would be best to go to another agency as I cannot see us having a successful business relationship. This has got me to thinking… hence this blog.

The adage ‘not all business is good business’ is by far not new; however, in this ever-increasing competitive business world, many of us are almost desperate for new business. I make this generalised statement based on the ‘drum’ that constantly gets beaten “grow the rent roll’. Whilst I agree wholeheartedly that every day businesses should be looking for new business opportunities (as I do in my own business), I do ask in the world of property management, at what cost is this being done?

There has long been a concern for staff in the property management industry and retention of staff. The costs of recruitment are substantial for most business plus the cost whilst waiting for the ‘right person’ to come along. It is interesting in my privileged position to note a trend in portfolio management of decreasing portfolio sizes; 5 years ago, it was common in my view for property managers to manage from 180 to 220 properties, however this trend seems to be on the demise. Lesser numbers seem to be on the increase which I believe to a wise decision. As more and more statutory demands are placed on landlords, property managers have more legislative obligations to manage. All service industry has long had issues with poor customers; property management also has its fair share. Abuse and unacceptable behaviour not just from tenants but also from landlord clients.

It must be said that most landlords and tenants are good people however we all know there is always someone or some people who are outright unreasonable, demanding and difficult to deal with. This could be they have had a ‘bad day’ and take it out on others; more so, the experiences of many are a history of this poor and unacceptable behaviour.

Given the issues that are far from new are staff recruitment, retention, stress and burn out in the real estate industry, it was refreshing to listen to the senior property manager decide that the business of the landlord was not wanted.

I believe the role of a career property manager/tenancy manager is three-fold in general;

  • Income retention (look after what we have)
  • Income growth (new business)
  • Income producing (activities that produce income).

We may want to grow our businesses but not to the detriment of our staff and their mental health plus their job satisfaction (from a business perspective this could lead to business cost). Think of all the time we would have to service our existing clients and seek excellent new clients if we say ‘enough is enough’ to the clients that are costing us money, and sometimes costing businesses more than money.

Vacant property reports and dealing with vacant property

Best practice advice

The following information is from chapter 4.5 Vacant property reports and dealing with vacant property of the Property Management Excellence (PME) manual 

When a rental property is vacant, lessors can be most vulnerable. They are vulnerable for a number of reasons which include the stress of not having rental money to assist in paying their mortgagees and also they are also in a position where unethical agents may target them in the hope of gaining their business. This could result in the agency currently managing the property losing the business.

It is important that property managers have utmost empathy with lessors during this period and that regular contact is made with the lessor. Sometimes making contact can be difficult if there is no or little feedback to provide. Contact with no feedback for the lessor is better than no contact with the lessor at all. If the lessor does not hear from the agency during this period, it would be quite common that they may believe that nothing is being done by the agency to rent their property.

A recommended procedure for vacant property is that lessors are phoned at least twice a week and provided feedback as to what is happening with their vacant property. Ideally the lessor should be contacted every day where able. The lessor is recommended to be contacted prior to showings and inspection appointments and after any showings of the property.

 

The importance of public liability insurance and attending to maintenance

Contributory Negligence: The law helps those that help themselves (and reduces damages for those that don’t)

A recent decision in the New South Wales Supreme Court saw the plaintiff sue a church in relation to injuries she sustained after falling down a flight of stairs. 

Despite her success, the court reduced the damages payable to the plaintiff by 50% for contributory negligence. 

In this alert, Solicitor Matthew Boyce and Senior Associate Jacqi Marshall discuss the recent decision of the New South Wales Supreme Court in Alzawy v Coptic Orthodox Church Diocese of Sydney, St Mary and St Merkorious Church (No. 2) [2016] NSWSC 1123.

Facts

On 3 January 2013, the plaintiff attended a bible study group which met in a building on the grounds of the Church of St Mary and Merkorious in Sydney.  After the meeting the plaintiff descended a flight of stairs on the premises.  The staircase consisted of 16 tiled steps with “nose tiles” laid on the outer edge of each tread and a handrail along the entire length.

Despite having traversed these stairs “hundreds of times”, the plaintiff gave evidence that she was unaware the “nose tile” of the sixth step from the top had been broken.  Evidence adduced at trial suggests this tile had been broken for approximately four years prior to the subject incident.

As the plaintiff began her descent, she opted not to use the handrail.  Some way down the staircase, she fell forward, hitting her head forcefully on the metal handrail before tumbling to the bottom.

At trial, the plaintiff argued the defendant was negligent in failing to replace the broken nose tile of the stairs, failing to block off the area around the broken tile and failing to warn the plaintiff a section of the stairs was in a dangerous condition.

The defendant did not dispute the presence of the broken tile was a tripping hazard and a breach of their duty of care.  They did, however, dispute it was the cause of the plaintiff’s fall.

 

Amended smoke alarm laws for Queensland

Queensland property management training

 
The new smoke alarm laws that commence 1 January 2017 in Queensland shall be discussed during the upcoming training events being held throughout QLD. Information at the link above or contact us 
 
Stacey Holt from Real Estate Excellence will present the amended laws as part of the training. Real Estate Excellence always focuses on risk management, compliance and best practice.

Real Estate Excellence members were provided information in the March 2016 Member update with more information to be provided to assist members in the near future.

 Members will be given the state Government media release as part of the as part of the September member update to provide to landlords to keep them informed.

Media Statements

Coat of Arms

Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services
The Honourable Bill Byrne

Queensland becomes national leader in smoke alarm legislation

Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services
The Honourable Bill Byrne

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Queensland becomes national leader in smoke alarm legislation

Queensland households will be the safest in the country after new smoke alarm legislation was passed in Parliament today.

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Bill Byrne said the legislation followed recommendations handed down after the 2011 Slacks Creek fatal house fire.

“The absolute tragedy we saw at Slacks Creek where 11 people died is an incident we never want repeated and this legislation ensures people will be alerted to house fires as early as possible,” Minister Byrne said.

The legislation specifies that every Queensland residence will need to be fitted with photoelectric, interconnected smoke alarms in all bedrooms, as well as hallways of residences.