Tenant wanting a landlord's opinion please

Apologies right off the bat as this is a long one but don't want to leave out anything that might matter.

Hi all, I'm a tenant - self-employed for a year so I don't yet have my two years of tax records to be able to buy yet - so am renting a great house in a suburb I love which is walking distance to my childrens' school.

We moved in four days before Xmas. Lots of troubles with the last tenants, house was sublet to uni students, minor damage not fixed, not properly cleaned, etc. PM took the tenant to Small Claims and apparently lost and so the owners had to wear the cost of extra cleaning, having the carpets done twice, etc. Now owners are understandably very cautious.

Since being here, I've been trying really hard to look after the place well. I have four kids, one is autistic and my youngest is a real handful so I've been extra careful that they don't damage walls, carpets, etc. Kids can be so careless with knocking things into walls so I've been trying to be vigilant. If there have been any scuffs, etc, the BIL has repaired and repainted the entire wall for me. My brother in law is a painter so I bought a tin of the exact colour of the walls. Over the last seven months we've repainted almost every wall in the house, not because of damage, but also covering poor touch ups and patch jobs by the last tenants. I don't mind as I want the owners to be happy with how I'm looking after the place and the PM seemed very pleased when I explained what I had been doing as I think the owners didn't want to have to pay out more on the house than they had already had to because of the last tenants.

So I've explained to the PM that I'm happy to do little jobs etc so the owner doesn't have to as I love the house and really want to stay for as long as I need or want to. First inspection at the 3 month mark was fine, all good, all happy. I pointed out a discolouration near the skirting board in a bedroom, as well as poor drainage of the backyard, and PM said she would get them looked at. A couple of weeks later someone comes to check the shower and a week after that sends out a tradesman to check the shower fittings. No problem from there as the bathroom shares a wall with the bedroom in question. A third person comes out and looks at the yard. The grass is soaked and dying off from constant water pooling. Says there needs to be a spill drain next to the undercover area to fix it. The PM rings me to say that the owners are antsy about having to spend money and that "we" have to tread carefully so as not to make them think the IP is too expensive and therefore sell it because I'd never get another investor to buy it so I would have to move out. I offer to do any repairs that I can to help as I have four kids and my own business - the last thing I want is to move!

PM then tells the owners to go after the builders (4yo house) for the backyard drainage problem and the possible water leak in the bedroom wall. Builder looks at the shower and says there's no leak, looks at the backyard and says it's not his problem as there is a pit drain but the landscapers didn't grade the yard properly so it's their problem. I get in touch with the PM after some research and offer to install a basic drain with drainage gravel and a low maintenance garden bed in the corner and then returf that section of the yard as now most of the grass has died off and there's just dirt. She seems happy with the idea and says okay. Before I get this job done, there is a second person from the builders (who turns up with no notice but I let him in because I want to be helpful) and he discovers there is water leaking from the ceiling in the bathroom, not the shower. He gets up on the roof and can't find anything either. The original builder comes back a second time, this time also with no notice and has a second look at the roof and says nothing is wrong and leaves. Next a valuer from the same agency as my PM gives me 24 hours notice and comes out to do a valuation "for tax purposes". This all happens in the space of six weeks. I do my best to accommodate everyone and help if I can. I always pay my rent and as I work for myself, if for any reason I know I will be even a day late with my rent (which is 2 weeks in advance) I always call the PM and let her know beforehand. Only two weeks ago the PM told me how happy the owners were about how I was taking care of the house and they were going to renew my lease which is due in October and they aren't even going to raise my rent. I was very happy and it sounded like they were too.

Last Friday I got a phone call from the Head of the PM department of the REA. She says the owner has heard several disturbing reports from people who have been to the house and that the house is filty, not being cleaned, etc. I will be the first to admit I'm not a great housekeeper, I work 12-14 hour days sometimes and start work at 3am most mornings (from home) and so work until mid-afternoon and then I think about housework and tidying up. Every person who came through the house did so in the morning, before I've tidied up, swept up, packed the dishwasher, etc. I don't doubt the house was not "inspection clean" at the time but some people didn't give me notice or I would have tidied up first on those days. Anyway, PM won't say names of who has reported back to the owner but did say the builders tell the owner that the stain on the bedroom wall near the skirting board isn't because of a water leak in the roof but because my children are probably urinating in the room!!! I was so mad and said that was definitely not the case. The head PM then asks if my PM can come in on Monday morning to look at the wall again herself. I say yes, that's fine but naturally spend the weekend tidying up and completing the drainage work in the back yard except for the last of the turfing as Bunnings had run out of turf rolls on the Sunday afternoon.

The PM arrives Monday morning and I think the house looks perfectly fine. Yes, there are a few dishes in the sink and some clean washing on the dining table to sort out but otherwise I wasn't worried. Instead of proceeding to the bedroom she stops at the loungeroom and inspects the carpet. She then gets really angry and says that the owner is furious that the carpets are dirty and they may not renew my lease now. I know the carpets need a clean and I would have done that before my next inspection which was meant to be in a couple of weeks' time anyway. I have no issue with cleaning the carpets as they are beige and in a house with four kids, they need to be taken care of. She then inspects every room in the house, notes any scuffs etc on walls (only a couple in the whole house), any marks on carpets, and makes me feel about an inch big, even commenting that she can't tell me how to live and can't tell me that I should fold my clothes and put them away after I wash them. This goes on for 15 minutes before she tells me that every carpet in the house will need to be professionally steam cleaned by either of two companies she prefers and that all the furniture will have to be removed from every room, not just cleaning the traffic areas and then I will have to take steps to protect the owner's carpet by putting down large floor mats that will cover all exposed carpeted areas in every room. I agree to do that as again, I don't want to move.

I'm now starting to feel like a fool for doing what I could to look after the house, help with any repairs etc when the PM says she is now breaching me for the carpet and the turf I haven't finished laying yet. I guess I'm ticked because the PM conducted an inspection without notice and if she had given me notice, the carpet would have been cleaned anyway. I wasn't trying to hide anything either and if I had thought the carpets were as bad as the PM is making out, I wouldn't have happily agreed for her to come in to look at the wall, knowing she would see the carpets as she went through. I'm also unsure why she is breaching me for the turf when she gave me permission to do the drainage work at my own expense. I have every intention of finishing the turf in the next week or two but now she says the carpets and turf all have to be done now and that she will be back on 20th Aug to inspect and make sure I have remedied the breaches.

I don't know what's more upsetting - the attitude change in the PM and the owners, or the fact that third party people, not associated with the REA but in the house to conduct maintenance, can go back and tell the owner things about the condition of the house that aren't even true so they can get out of properly fixing the roof (which they haven't even looked at the inside of yet). I know the PM is under a lot of pressure as I think the owners were unhappy that the PM didn't get the previous tenant's bond to pay for the cleanup when they left and I can understand that if they get told something about the house that sounds like the place is being trashed, that they're going to be upset and concerned. They live in NSW, the house is in QLD so they have to trust the PM to handle things and I guess the owners are expecting the PM to pull out all the stops to find out what is going on. I understand that too but I think I am also being harshly treated based on their experiences with the previous tenants and maybe what they feel has been previously inadequate action by the PM.

What I really wanted to ask was what do you, as a landlord, make of this situation? Part of me is angry and wants to just to the minimum and wait out the last 9 or so weeks of my lease and then get out. I'd hate to think this is how the PM is going to be for another 12 months if I renewed. Through all of this I've been unwell with symptoms like multiple sclerosis so have had weeks at a time where I have only been able to do a quarter of the work I normally do but I've never been late with the rent and always made sure it got paid even if my income was a lot less than usual because I know the owners need the rent money too as they have a mortage. The sceptic in me wonders if the PM purposely didn't give me an inspection notice even though she knew that there were alleged concerns about the condition of the property because if she had given me 7 days, I would have had the carpets cleaned and there would have been nothing to report back to the owner, who maybe would have then thought the PM was not doing her job properly if third parties are telling her all this stuff and the PM comes back with nothing. Maybe she is trying to make sure it looks like she is doing something, which I know is what she's supposed to do?

On the other hand, I worry that the owner is not getting the full picture either. I have her address as she posted me dump vouchers only a week ago and wrote her address on the back. I don't know if I should write to her and explain my position and what has been going on up here, how the PM has been, all the people coming and going with no notice and the work I have done on the house. I do want to stay in the house and wonder if I should explain that to her. I feel like the whole world is crashing in on me over the fact that the carpet needs a clean.

As a landlord, do you have any advice for a tenant who doesn't know what to do to fix the situation (apart from get the carpets cleaned and put down mats - both of which are happening next week) and restore the owner's faith in me that I am taking care of her home?

Again, many thanks if you've managed to stay the distance with this post!

Cheers, Lu
As a tenant, I would make sure I had all the latest on rights etc - so check up with your local tenancy advocate group.

Take photos - of everything as it happens.

I believe there may be a breach in the law of how the owner found out about the state of the house (reagrdless of the actual state).


The Y-man
It sounds like the owner is planning to sell. So, I would be preparing for that possibility.

I understood that tenants no longer had to get carpet professionally cleaned at the end of a tenancy. So, as Y-man says, find out what you are and aren't required to do.
And once you've finished doing this bit of free labour for the landlord, I wouldn't encourage you to do anymore. keeping the house tidy is one thing, but doing building work and landscaping etc is not only expecting too much of you, but if they were unhappy with the work, they could ask you to "make it right". So, I wouldn't advise you doing it,
Good luck,
OMG It really sounds too hard. It sounds like nothing will be good enough. Probably first time investors. Or some people do not have realistic expectations.

I'd just move out. I know it's a hassle but do you really want to live with that worry and pain for the next 12 months?
it sounds like your land lord is a real ***** with no children, its probly her first investment property, if i could i would happily let you one of my homes , but i have none at the moment, send this letter you wrote to the property manager, it says it all!
i have one child and our home looks like a bomb hit it at 9am every morning without fail, good luck with the next home , look for a place with tiles to prevent traffic issues, ;)
Hi littlebarefoot,

If I was your Landlord, this is how I would respond if you wrote to me directly ;

1. I'd thank you for taking the time and initiative to write to me, but encourage you in future to direct all queries to my PM.

2. I'd thank you for paying the rent in advance as you obligated to do when you signed the Lease with me, and fully encourage you to keep doing that. Stating the obvious perhaps but it's my # 1 priority.

3. I'd encourage you to finish the rear yard work, and state that you undertake that work at your sole risk....(don't sue me if you cut yourself or get a sore back because of it).

4. I'd say that I don't care about your dishes or the washing and folding of your clothes. That's your domain. I have no interest in how you live your private life.

5. I'd apologise for the lack of notice given thus far from my contractors and re-assure you that none of my servants (builders / PMs) will ever roll up on your door without proper notice again.

6. I'd ask your opinion as to whether you like the premises (don't use that opportunity to hit me with a big long list of maintenance issues) and whether you had an intention to renew the Lease if I offered you one.

7. Don't think I'm harsh, but I don't particularly care what time you have to get up or what afflictions you may or may not have. I've got far too many domestic problems of my own to manage without bringing all of yours onboard as well. I'm sure you wouldn't want to hear about all of my troubles.....

Cheers and good luck.
Sounds like a good PM to me. Post her name up and I am sure she will get some business from here. Its great she is looking after the place for the owners.

As an owner of multiple dwellings I have heard all the excuses there is as to why it hasn't been done. It would be nice to turn up one day to find it all had been done and the place was as the tennant had originally rented it.

Just had one lovely unmarried mother of two cause damage and rent arrears to the tune of 7k (thats after the insurance claim). I have no sympathy left anymore!!!!!
Take lots of photos. Unless the carpet is obviously permanently damaged, I would have thought that as long as it's made good (ie clean again) when you leave, then there's little that the landlord/PM can do about it in the meantime, apart from note it.

I know from my own experience that it's impossible to keep carpet looking clean with four kids in the house - which is why I'm currently replacing mine with timber floors ;) - but it always comes up looking great after a shampoo. (Trashed again within days, though, unfortunately. :mad: Even with a "no shoes" policy, our carpet always looked filthy.)

I don't think writing to the landlord will help, because it sounds like they're either overly precious about the state of their investment property, and/or sensitised by their experience last year.

As for the PM commenting on your folding etc, that's just plain rude, and completely irrelevant to your tenancy. It's stuff like that which makes me happy to pay the premium to live in my own home rather than rent.
I believe in Queensland it is against the law for the landlord / agent to nominate specific companies that tenants must use to clean carpets.

Nothing like tin tacs....

What specifically makes you believe that Syd ??

The link you provided utilises the exact terms "may" and "may be".

Somehow you've then translated that to the words "against the law" and the word "must".

the lessor/agent may (shall) not specify that the tenant use a particular company or product to clean the carpets as this may (shall) be considered to be an offence under the Act.

There is a chasm wide enough to drive a truck through between the words "may" and "shall".
"may not" is an explicit prohibition. When have you ever heard someone say "you may not do such and such" meaning that you probably shouldn't but it's ok if you do anyway?
"may not" is an explicit prohibition.
I'm with Dazz; legally, "may" is pretty much the same as "might".

The landlord might not specify which company will be used, because this might be an offence.

It's an FYI statement, not a directive.

I think that Dazz's point is that he'd be prepared to take the chance as to whether or not it's an offence. ;) It's highly unlikely a tenant would take it to Tribunal, and if they did, Dazz is confident his wigs could get around that weasel word "may".
Like some of the others have said, it sounds like the owners are first time Landlords and are a little precious about their property. In saying that they had damages from the last tenants and this was denied at tribunal, then I would suggest that the damages were probably just fair wear & tear, or their PM isn't much good.

I would also suggest that the valuation "for tax purposes" was a little misleading. FWIW, the ATO are not concerned with the value of the property, they are more concerned with the income you receive. A valuation, from a Landlord's perspective is usually done to access more funds from the bank. In saying that, I suspect that the valuation was a salesman from the Real Estate Agency, giving the owner a rundown on the prospective sales price. I would also suggest that your new lease will not happen as they will let you run into a month-to-month as then it is easier to sell.

As a Landlord, I don't give two hoots about your housekeeping. All I care about is that the property is being cared for, which by what you have written, sounds like it has. For the PM to say the things she did is totally inappropriate. Again I feel that maybe, just maybe, since you have been so accommodating with everything else, she might be trying to groom you into having things nice & neat all the time for prospective purchasers to trample through the place.

I would suggest that you do nothing further to improve the property. If they want inspections etc, with no notice that you refuse. This is your right. I also suggest that you find out what your rights are as a tenant.
Nice story.

A bit concerning though that you have patched up so much. To me that indicates the level of property damage.

In my professional opinion kids that are a handfull and children with autism spectrum disorder are highly destructive.
You seem so offended that they accused a child of urinating on the skirting. Sorry but I LOL'd when I read that.

Could it be that you are de sensitised as to what you consider as bad damage vs the next person? Just some food for thought.
What specifically makes you believe that Syd ??

The link you provided utilises the exact terms "may" and "may be".

Somehow you've then translated that to the words "against the law" and the word "must".

This is very interesting. The link is the Residential Tenancies Authority - a Queensland government body responsible for the Act.

the lessor/agent may not specify that the tenant use a particular company or product to clean the carpets as this may be considered to be an offence under the Act

If the Authority states the above on their FAQ section - my view is I would not want to test them out.

I would also question whether third line forcing is an issue here.