Southport Property Management Headaches

Hi all, I’m looking for some input on a series of dramas I’m having with a property manager in Southport on the Gold Coast. Over a period of about six years this particular agency managed a number of properties for me. Earlier this year the PM was let go and a replacement found and since then I’ve had a never ending series of dramas.

The dramas started with the new PM regularly not returning calls or emails. A week would go by, I’d send a follow up email or call then be told I’m being “demanding” and she was too busy. Often the requests would be for info such as the name and dates of a new lease or the status of a repair. This particular individual could not find time for basic tasks but would send me extremely lengthy emails (approaching a thousand words in a couple of occasions), about her extensive education then go on to disclose all the internal difficulties she had such as the legacy from the previous PM, not being able to find or retain staff (including telling me how many PM adverts are currently on, end of month activities and anything else to absolve herself of responsibility. Essentially endless excuses over many, many months.

On the financial side, she attempted to slip in a charge on top of all maintenance (above and beyond the usual PM rates in a standard agreement) secreted into the tail end of a monthly newsletter and it was only after I told the agency principal directly this was “not on” that my properties were exempted. However as the relationship deteriorated I was told not enough was being made from my properties anyway (the rate is very competitive but equal to what I pay many other PMs in QLD and NSW) and eventually that the agency was moving towards only managing properties over $350/w which all of mine are (individually) under.

I pulled the pin on this agency a month ago and moved to another in Southport (at the same rate, incidentally) with a PM I’m extremely happy with. The problem I have now and the reason for this post is that it appears essential components of the service which should have been provided by the last PM haven’t happened. Of most concern is that I don’t appear to have ingoing inspection reports (still confirming how many properties they’re missing for) and I’m very concerned about the possible ramifications should a tenant depart and leave the place in a mess. The feedback I’ve had from the old PM is that others within the agency (either her predecessors or staff she directly released), either have not performed the inspections or have not properly filed them but that’s not her responsibility. Basic facts such as whether or not a property has a garage remote control now cannot be answered. I’m also now hearing from the new PM that basic maintenance requests (such as leaking taps), were not carried out and tenants are advising they were told I refused the repairs which is absolutely incorrect (in retrospect, I wonder if it’s related to me not paying the new maintenance fee?).

So I’m after some thoughts on how to proceed. For a variety of reasons I can’t make any headway with the principal. I haven’t spoken to the old PM in recent weeks and now she has become extremely hostile (in writing, bless her) to the new PM culminating today by stating she “will not answer to demands by some other agency’s property manager”. This is after yesterday beginning her email to my new PM by talking about all her qualifications (even the grades she received!) before telling her I was a “very demanding landlord” (incidentally, I sent less than one email for each property per month) so it’s clear the time for rational discussion has come and gone. Is this the sort of behaviour which should be brought to the awareness of REIQ (probably not consistent behaviour with their charter I’d imagine)? Should it go to Fair Trading and be mediated? Does she need some prompting from my friendly solicitor? Or should I just cut my losses, cross my fingers and I hope I don’t have any major dramas with the current tenants?

Thanks everyone, Merry Christmas :)
For a variety of reasons I can’t make any headway with the principal.

Ultimately, at law, the principal of the agency is responsible for the actions of all his/her employess. It is the principal's (licensee-in-charge)'s licence on the line.

PMs have a thankless job and tend to not stay so long. Thankfully, we have found a few older, more mature PMs to work with. But the property Management Agreement you have is with the Agency not the particular PM.

Every Agency is required by law to have a complaints handling policy. You need to put your beef in writing, giving them 10 business days to respond before you go to Fair Trading.
Every Agency is required by law to have a complaints handling policy. You need to put your beef in writing, giving them 10 business days to respond before you go to Fair Trading.

That seems to be the only real course of action but I assume the objective of Fair Trading is to mediate and achieve a mutually agreeable financial resolution right? If that’s the case, I’m not sure quite what I should be looking for in terms of dollars. If duties I’ve paid for have not been fulfilled then it seems there is a case to compensate accordingly but what is “reasonable”? Other management tasks were fulfilled, how do you value those which weren’t?
Hi Troy,

Does the old PM's name begin with G? And the agency in question have the initials DL?

Got a feeling I know exactly who you are talking about, and if I'm correct, you are not the 1st to suffer at the hands of this nutter.

Also if this is the case I can give you the details of your old old PM being Rachel.

Best wishes
Hiya Troy,

Just PM'd you.

Fairly easy to spot a true fruitcake. They can dress up, they can wear a wig and lipstick or wear a fake beard and mustache but they are still a fruitcake.

Best wishes
Thanks everyone who responded personally and particularly those I’ve spoken to, it’s reassuring to see the behaviour this individual has been exhibiting hasn’t solely been directed towards me and my new PM. If the info posted above sounds familiar to you and you’ve also been adversely affected by this person’s attitude and actions, please contact me personally and I’ll share details of the process I’m now working through.
So it turns out that one of my properties with this agency never had a bond collected. The tenant went in several years ago so this didn’t occur during the tenure of the current PM but as Propertunity pointed out further up, certainly the agency (therefore the principal) is accountable. The mind still boggles at how something so fundamental wasn’t done.

The new agency is approaching the tenant to make the bond available but I suspect their financial position will make this infeasible. Other than eviction, what does everyone think the possible courses of action are? I’m conscious of the risk I’m now carrying but it’s not a good time to find a new tenant for this particular property as there are some pending strata works and internal damage which need to be sorted out before it’s presentable again. Are there any other ramifications of a bond not having been lodged?
Just to finally wrap this up for those that were interested, after appealing directly to the principal the entry conditions reports the PM couldn’t locate appeared quite swiftly. Effort is also being made to rectify other missing items (keys, remote control) and promises of financial reimbursement have been made if they can’t be located. Meanwhile, the new PM is doing a great job getting essential maintenance work done which the old PM had apparently told tenants I wasn’t willing to undertake. My only outstanding problem is a missing bond which is a risk I’ll just have to bear whilst the tenant remains.

Moral of the story; no matter how much you trust your PM you need to keep a careful eye on them and if they do go off the rails, ditch them ASAP and give the business to someone who wants to do the job properly.
Hi troy,

Interesting story. I'm glad to hear you have almost sorted it out.

I had a situation a year back when an Inspection report was not intially filled out and the tenants left the place in a mess. Broken locks and windows! I know how you feel. :(

Regards JO