At Zeal Group we know that you sometimes have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. Or in this case, use a lot of poor property agents before you find a great one. This week we chatted to tenants Sarah and Kody about their previous experiences in the property rental market.
Zeal Group: So guys, firstly tell us about you.
Kody: Well, we are a professional couple. We run several successful online businesses and have set up homebase here on the Gold Coast. We are friendly and active members of the community and fell in love with the Pacific Pines area of Gold Coast. We moved there just over three years ago to take on a volunteer role at Southland Christian Centre and we rented a three bedroom duplex. In my opinion, we are pretty much the perfect tenants! We pay rent via automated direct transfer every week, we keep the property super clean and tidy and we always do our best to look after the agent with any requests for property entries and the like.
Zeal Group: Wow sounds perfect, so what went wrong?
Sarah: Our experience was poor right from the outset. When we moved into our new home, the agent apologised that there was a couple of areas on the walls that had cracks in addition to areas that were in the process of being repainted. They explained that the order to have these things addressed had been placed and it would all be fixed during our first week in the property. The agent advised that the old tenants had only just moved out and because we were moving in so quickly they hadn’t had a chance to get this fixed up yet. We were fine with that. We were just happy to be in our new home. The problem was that it was twelve months before all those ‘minor’ jobs had been finished and the painter came back several times to complete a job that should have only taken a few hours. Apparently he needed to ‘fit it around his other jobs’. This basically meant that one of us always had to be home to let in contractors and there was always eyesores and mess in these areas of the home. It meant that we could never fully settle into the property and it seemed like it didn’t matter how many times we contacted the agents, nothing was being done.
Zeal Group: That’s not good at all – have things improved with the management since then?
Kody: Well, as I write this we are still waiting for blinds to be put up in the bathroom, something that was promised 8 months ago. We had the same issue in the bedroom and eventually had to put them up ourselves so that we had some privacy from the neighbours. All of this had to be at our own cost. So, no, it hasn’t improved at all.
Zeal Group: How was the agent’s attitude towards you?
Kody: It really sucked. They treated us as though we were a major inconvenience and on some occasions they were downright rude. When the dishwasher broke several months ago and we requested maintenance to replace or fix it, we had to follow them up for months. After having had no response to our emails we needed to call the agent. The agent brushed off our request and cheekily remarked “oh dear, you’ll have to go back to washing dishes by hand.” We pay for a property of a certain value and we expect to have what we pay for. We also felt sorry for the property owner who would certainly expect his property to be kept updated with repairs and maintenance work. The only time the agent was actually in contact with us was to inform us that they were raising the rental prices. This was really infuriating and simply rubbed salt in a pretty open wound.
Zeal Group: What should the agents have done differently?
Sarah: We are really reasonable people and we don’t expect instant repairs or maintenance work in a rental home. What we do expect is good communication and a polite and organized service from our agent. If you tell us you will come to repaint the house in three weeks then that’s totally ok, but come in three weeks and paint it! We don’t appreciate being made to feel like you took our money and now you don’t care about us at all which is exactly how we felt.
Zeal Group: Do you think that an agent can affect the value of a rental property?
Kody: 100% yes! When we received notice that our rent was going up we refused to pay it and the agents ended up backing down on the price rise. If the service of the agent and the state of the property had been satisfactory then the extra $10 a week would have be no problem at all. The other thing of course is the condition of the home. If maintenance issues are not addressed in a timely manner then it is easy for the condition of a property to quickly deteriorate, even in a few years. The small crack that was overlooked, the stain on the carpet, the broken dishwasher… I wouldn’t want to be a property owner and come back to find all these problems hadn’t been addressed. Whether you want to sell or rent your property, neglecting maintenance work will certainly take its toll on the value.
Sarah: I agree and of course the other thing is that I think tenants are more likely to treat a property with respect if it is in a good condition. If you move into a property which has damage and outstanding repairs you might not feel so bad about adding to them yourself.
Zeal Group: What stopped you from leaving the property?
Kody: We are really busy and moving takes up a lot of time and energy. We also believed that the agent would honour their word and fix the problems in the home as we did have a contract with them. We really love the home but the joy of living there was taken away by bad property management. It now makes sense to me that properties with poor management have a higher rate of tenant turnover.
Zeal Group: So what’s next for you both?
Sarah: Business is great and we now have a home deposit saved and are in the process of investigating properties of our own with a view to renting them out. We are not allowing ourselves to be bitter about the whole experience but we have learnt some valuable lessons. I can tell you who we won’t be calling: the agents that managed our rental property!
Zeal Group: What would be your advice to potential tenants and property owners?
Kody: As a tenant I would be asking for references from other tenants managed by the property agent. I would ask them if they are happy with the communication, repairs and overall management they have received. I would also take more time to document faults before moving into the property and agree a timescale for repair linked to my rental payments. Remember that bad agents are quick to take your payments but slow to honour their agreements.
Sarah: Exactly and as a property owner I would really take my time looking for an agent to manage my investment. I would want to see how they plan to address maintenance issues, their list of approved contractors and to chat with some of their existing clients to see what their experience has been. I would want my tenants to be happy and my property kept in a good condition because this is my main investment and I care about it.
Zeal Group would like to thank Sarah and Kody for chatting to us and providing their valuable opinions. For an expert property appraisal with an agent that cares about your investment please contact us here.
Zeal recognises property owners deserve better protection for their investment, providing a transparent and accountable service that gives our clients real peace of mind in the knowledge their property is in the hands of experts who truly care.