Property management is a high pressure, high stress job that can take an emotional toll on property management staff at the best of times.
Hordes of property managers have left the industry since 2020.
Take the very stressful working conditions during Covid, changes (sometimes obstructive) to laws and regulations in many states and the impact of the worsening housing crisis, and you have a perfect storm to unleash significant pressure on property managers working in a private rental market that provides homes for one-third of Australians.
The rental market is worse than it has been for many generations.
There is not enough rental housing to go around and competition is intense.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that home ownership rates for people under 40 are declining, and increasing numbers of older Australians are also finding themselves in the rental market.
Simon Withers is RE/MAX Australia’s Business Growth Manager for Western Australia and sits on the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia’s Property Management Advisory Committee.
He says property managers who worked with their landlords to get through the COVID-19 challenges had since been thrust headlong into the housing crisis that is now affecting the nation.
While many Australians have, and are, worried about keeping a roof over their heads, property managers are sometimes maligned and among the forgotten sufferers.
Property managers are often caught between landlords and tenants in the midst of an unhealthy rental market.
“Property management professionals may be facing homelessness themselves, as well as being torn by emotions and feelings as they sit between tenants and landlords in challenging conditions to provide a place for tenants to call home,” Simon says.
“Those working in property management have families, homes, financial difficulties, feelings and emotions just as the rest of us do.
“The question is, how much is too much; and how are they being supported in their roles to manage these difficult times.”
Simon points to the various industry aligned Facebook groups in Western Australia where he says there are regularly comments from distressed and emotionally distraught professionals.
“Property management professionals are driven to tears while trying to help tenants and landlords navigate the market conditions,” he explains.
“These are real people who are hurting. It is more important than ever, as a real estate principal or team leader, to focus on the wellbeing of your staff.
“Check in with them regularly, encourage them to come to you with any issue, no matter how small, personal or work-related, and have a genuine ‘my door is always open’ policy.
“Provide an environment where staff are encouraged to take time off, and where they can be confident that their role is being managed in their absence.”
Simon suggests team building events, one-on-one coffees, social events, the unexpected thank you and simply complimenting the team on a job well done, all of which can help during such trying times.
Property managers should maintain their work-life balance, prioritise their health and exercise, have a workplace that suits their lifestyle, have ways to ‘switch-off’ outside of work and be kind to themselves when they are already doing their best.
Simon says property managers have been at the coalface of managing stressed tenants and landlords through a tumultuous period and burnout is the end result.
Legislative changes and new minimum standards for rentals add even further stress.
“When the landlord says ‘I’m not prepared to do that’ what’s a property manager meant to do?” Simon asks.
“Just last week, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that the Queensland Government would limit rent rises to one per year.
“Her reason was to give the million-plus Queensland renters a ‘fairer go’ but this may not impress all landlords and could drive more out of property investment and further reduce rental supply.”
Simon says the Western Australian Government has reviewed the state’s Residential Tenancies Act (1987) over the past few years, examining issues affecting the tenancy process, including security of tenure, rents, bonds and terminations.
He says a fair residential tenancy system should balance the rights of owners and tenants, and there is concern changes to the WA laws could have a negative impact as well.
Simon says real estate professionals are usually drawn to the industry because they are ‘people-people’ who love the industry in which they work, helping their clients achieve value from their investments, and providing secure housing for tenants.
Right across Australia, property managers are in pressure-cooker situations, and they need the understanding and support of governments and other industry-related bodies.
Furthermore, it is the tenants and landlords who will ultimately bear the brunt of the serious skills shortage that an exodus of experienced property managers creates.
Contact Simon Withers on mobile 0400 770 009 and email email@example.com.