While renting can offer tenants a certain degree of flexibility and freedom that home ownership does not in some ways, it doesn’t come without its accompanying downside.
Although in the vast majority of cases, tenants and landlords – and the property managers who manage the relationship between the two – things go smoothly on both sides of the equation, there are times when disputes arise, says Abel McGrath Property Manager, Kate Jones.
She said one of the key elements of a good Property Manager’s role is managing disputes and potential disputes before they escalate and ensuring they are resolved swiftly and to the satisfaction of both parties where possible.
Ms Jones said by far the most common cause of disputes was when it came time for the bond to be returned (or not) and often focused on issues regarding property maintenance and care and the condition in which the property was left.
She said with the current market tending to favour the tenants, with lower competition for rental properties across most Perth suburbs, complaints were on the rise with both parties.
“The downturn in the market has certainly added pressure to lessors when tenants request that maintenance be done,” she said.
“However, at times the lessors feel that the returns they are getting on their investment are not consistent with the rental income.”
Ms Jones said it is often when disputes arise between the parties that both sides realise the value of having a good property manager.
“The advantage of having a good property manager is that they will ensure all of the documentation relating to the tenancy and the property is completed in an orderly fashion to avoid conjecture.
“An effective property manager will also be able to negotiate between the two parties and mitigate any potential disputes without acting on responses irrationally or in an emotional manner so that it doesn’t need to escalate any further.”
She said a good property manager needed firstly to have the ability to listen.
“This will help them negotiate a fair solution, mediate a reasonable ground and uphold professional business standards throughout the dispute,” Ms Jones added.
She said tenants always have the option to seek further advice from the Department of Commerce as does the lessor, should they feel that an agent or property manager was acting unfairly or not in line with the Residential Tenancy Agreement.
“Having a recommended Property Manager should give the client some confidence that the recommendation is based on the experience and the rapport they had with that Property Manager or with the agency,” Ms Jones said.
“This should also be consistent with having proper office procedures to ensure that we as Property Managers are acting in line with the Real Estate Business Act.”
She said acting on problems in a timely manner was also important as it ensured accuracy of administrative records and processes.
“It’s also recommended that tenants and lessors alike understand the terms of the Lease Agreement including any special conditions that will reduce the likelihood of conflict arising and of the potential for misunderstanding.”