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REIQ calls for help for property managers

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) is calling for better support for property managers who are struggling to deal with the ongoing pressure caused by the tight rental market and recent flood events.

REIQ Chief Executive Officer Antonia Mercorella said property managers had borne the brunt of the eviction moratorium, rising rents and the recent flooding disaster.

“It has been an unrelenting onslaught of challenge after challenge for property managers over the past couple of years, and this mounting pressure is understandably taking an emotional toll. It’s little wonder that we have seen a wave of resignations amongst this sector,” Ms Mercorella said.

“We’ve heard concerning reports of property managers regularly encountering verbal abuse and, in some cases, even being physically assaulted while simply doing their job.

“Whilst we understand the strain and frustration tenants are experiencing due to very tight rental conditions, it’s unacceptable that property managers are being subjected to verbal and physical abuse – which is only exacerbated by tenant advocacy groups when they use highly disparaging terms which paint property managers as the enemy.”

The recent Voice of the Property Manager 2021 report, showed 60 per cent of Australian property managers found dealing with aggressive and abusive owners and tenants as their biggest challenge; 53 per cent struggle with mental health; and almost one in four (23 per cent) intend to leave the industry altogether – twice the number recorded in the inaugural 2018 report.

Ms Mercorella said property managers play an incredibly important role in the housing market.

“Property managers play a vital role in Queensland real estate, as trained professionals who ensure properties are managed in a legally compliant manner,” she said.

“Without property managers, this burden would fall to self-represented property owners, who tend to need support to navigate strict and complex residential tenancies laws, which would add to the strain on government-funded resources.

“With more legislative reforms flagged, enormous workloads and expectations, and the harsh realities of the rental crisis weighing heavily on them, it’s no wonder property managers are facing burn-out with many more ready to throw the towel in.

“The REIQ is working hard to raise awareness around this issue. We are asking government and other relevant stakeholders to understand the pressure-cooker situations our property managers are in and asking for better support and understanding.”

REIQ Property Management Chapter Chair Clint Dowdell-Smith said the pandemic and government-imposed lockdowns had severely impacted property managers.

“Property managers were at the forefront of our industry during the Covid pandemic and had to deal with the effect of decisions that were made with very little guidance and information from the government,” Mr Dowdell-Smith said.

“Having to guide property owners and tenants through this, and hear stories of tenants not being able to pay their rent and owners having their own financial impact and possibly not being able to help those tenants – it is hard not to take some of that emotion on board.

“Instinctively our desire to help kicks in and when that sometimes feels it doesn’t even scratch the surface, we put added pressure on ourselves to try and do more.”

Mr Dowdell-Smith said it’s been an incredibly emotional time for both tenants and property managers.

“Property managers are always trying to find that happy medium where we can keep people in tenancies but are also dealing with people who can be very upset,” he said.

“We are in the middle, trying to deal with those heightened emotions and come up with solutions for them,” he said.

“Trying to work our way through all of this, the emotional component, a huge increase in workload, supply issues with tradespeople and add a short supply of property management staff in the industry, creates such a drain on our people.

“At the end of the day, property managers are people who are sometimes going through the same experiences and challenges as well.

“We are looking forward, our chins up, doing the best we can and hopefully get a bit of a breath before we have to train up and get ready for the new legislative requirements coming into effect.”

REIQ Property Management Chapter Committee member Rebecca Fogarty said the rental crisis has been hard for many property managers.

“With every property available we have 20 tenant applications, which means one nice call of – ‘Hey you get a new home’ and 19 other calls of ‘sorry, your application wasn’t successful’.

“We have tenants in tears, tenants who are angry and abusive and everything in between,” Ms Fogarty said.

“There are also more difficult scenarios where tenants who have been given notice to vacate (due to the owner selling or moving back in) but haven’t found another place to move to before their lease agreement ends. 

“This then has a domino effect, meaning that the new owner or buyer can’t move in, removalists cancelled, the owner’s rental or buyer’s home is then delayed, so on and so on.”

Ms Mercorella said the REIQ is holding its Property Manager Conference on Thursday, 31 March with the welfare of property managers being a key discussion.

“We have seen situations worsen for property managers in recent years and, as the peak body for real estate in Queensland, we’re preparing our industry for current and future challenges,” she said.

“This year’s conference theme is ‘Navigating Complexity’ and is designed to help property managers acquire better skills in conflict resolution, negotiation, de-escalating aggressive situations and learning coping mechanisms. 

“We will also cover rental reforms and how property managers can best prepare for the first stage of these legislative changes.”

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a senior journalist at Elite Agent specialising in finance and real estate.