For many in our industry, property management legislation can be like a minefield and many agents truly struggle with the ever-changing laws.
But, like so many things we do in property management, careful planning and education can fill the gap in your knowledge. Story by Simon Cox.
For many in our industry, property managementlegislation can be like a minefield and many Agents truly struggle with the ever-changinglaws. But, like so many things we do in property management, careful planning and education can fill the gap in your knowledge.
There is no question that we live in a world of information, with legislationso readily available at our fingertips via technology, and property managers need to have all the tools necessary to perform a professional and effective job. The challenge for us becomes one of knowledge and its application. How do we use the legislation as a tool to make our roles more efficient?Here are some of the strategies worth considering.
- Accept that you are the vehicle for delivering the legislation to the market place.
It’s a known fact that most tenants and landlords will never read the legislationthatappliestotheir Tenancy Agreement. The Tenancy Agreement is an agreementbetween the landlord and the Tenant. As property managers and agents, we simply facilitate that agreement; and in essence, we must deliver the law to them. I am not talking about only sending the required documents to both parties; I am talking about educating them on their rights and obligations to each other within the agreement. The more you educate your clients and customers about their responsibility under the legislation, the easier your job will become.You should also note that by spending more time educating the tenants and landlords about the law, you essentially step further away from liability and risk to you.
- Never shy away from reminding parties of their obligations.
This is where the legislation can be your voice. Economically,it is tough for many people right now so when you ring a landlord about spending money on repairs you may experience some hesitancy from them. The law directly mentions a landlord’s obligation to maintain the property if they expect the tenant to pay rent. If the landlord chooses not to maintain the property, they are in breach of the law, and more tenants are starting to realise this fact. Always remind landlords and tenants that the legislationspecifies the obligations of both parties and failure to abide by the relevantlawscan result in unfavorable consequences. There have already been well noted tribunal decisions against landlords for failure to meet there obligations regarding maintenance, so why are we not sending the landlord these rulings and giving them some hard facts. That fact is simple, fail to maintain the property, and still expect a commercial return such as rent from the Tenant, and run the risk of tenants exercising their legislative right for compensation and rent reductions.The time has come to stop taking the blame from tenants for maintenance not being done by landlords. You are doing your job, and informing the other party to the agreementof their obligations under the tenancy, and the last time I checked, agents don’t earn enough to be abused by tenants for things that need fixing. Get tough, refer the legislation to the landlord and if they still won’t comply, then direct the tenant towards further options such as formal notification. Increasinglyagents are starting to wise up to this fact and are removing their management service from the property because of risk and non-compliance with the Act.
- Have a plan.
You should have a monthly strategy to educate your landlords on aspects of the agreement that give you the biggest problems such as maintenance, arrears and vacating tenants. This can be done by including direct extracts from the legislation in your written communication, newsletters or emails. Do whatever you need to do to get the message out there. Tenants can also be informed of the legislation via newsletters, written communication andnotes left during inspections.Always remind them that it is the legislationthat requires them to do whatever it may be, rather than‘you’ wanting them to do it. In this way, you are effectively stepping further away from the problem if the parties choose to do nothing. After all, they are breaching the legislation and not your agency’s rules. You should also ‘get connected’ to our industry more. Both the Federal and State governments in the next two years are rolling out more legislative changes to our industry and you will need to be fully aware of what impact this has to our customers and clients. Love or hate the changes, the fact will remain, we are going to have to work with it. It is amazing just how many people complain about the laws after they have been introduced, and yet very little is said before they are rolled out and during the consultation period. All laws allow every single person the opportunity to voice their concerns or acceptance to changes intended, so make your voice heard. The more we all stand together and voice our concerns over changes, the more they will listen.
- Never overlook the best chances you have to explain the obligations of each party to agreements.
With landlords, this is when you are presenting and securing the Management Agreement, and, for tenants, it is the Tenancy Agreement sign up appointment. This is your chance to meet face to face with each party and explain in legislative terms and requirements of the agreement theyare entering into. Let’s face it, once this moment passes, you may never get another chance to explain it in a controlled environment under your own terms.
The time you spend at these appointments will be up to you, but ensure you leave nothing unsaid that should be said. After the meeting is over, if the parties choose a different path and not comply with thelegislation, professionally, you have at least satisfied your duty of care and minimised risk to your agency. The more you inform parties of their obligations under the legislation, the further away you move from litigation. The choice is yours.
This is where the legislation can be your voice. Economically,it is tough for many people right now so when you ring a landlord about spending money on repairs you may experience some hesitancy from them. The law directly mentions a landlord