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A job title that carries a huge amount of responsibility and weight, but more often than not under appreciated.
Property Management laws in Western Australia are the strictest within Australia (With potentially more proposed); the Residential Tenancies Act of WA is so involved we are constantly learning each and every day because we simply cannot know it all and need to keep up. On a day to day basis Property Managers are subjected to different scenarios and/or issues which require a high level of concentration, knowledge and dedication to the job at hand to ensure everything is correctly handled in accordance with the guidelines set out before us. And from time to time we come under fire for following the rules and can sometimes be seen as being heartless simply for doing our job.
The scary world of property management is certainly not for everyone, which can be witnessed by the high level of burnout within our industry and the large amount of new property managers entering the industry then leaving within their first 12 months, as they realise it is not the career path for them. Tenants and Owners see this as an inconvenience and become irritated at having to deal with different people all the time, not realizing that it is because of the jobs requirements that there is such high turnover of staff. It can be a thankless job at times.
You need a thick skin in this challenging role when we are dealing with peoples most primary need “a home” as well as peoples secondary need “money”, both of which can bring out the best and the worst in people.
We joke in this industry that we wear a number of different hats in our day job from property managers to relationship counsellors, advisors, maintenance people, plumbers, electricians, roofers, building inspectors (obviously not doing the work but trying to explain and prove issues need to be repaired), cleaners, pet handlers and a huge array of other roles. When in fact we are simply a bunch of somewhat crazy people coming to work each day to help provide our community with a roof over their head and hopefully money in the pockets of the investors providing the homes to lease. We push to be the best, offer the best service and do everything we can to keep everyone happy and the wheel turning.
Why then, do property managers receive so much criticism from those we serve?
Admittedly we can’t keep everyone happy 100% of the time. Some Landlords don’t want to complete those repairs or refuse to respond to our calls and emails to get that heater working before winter. Tenants don’t always do the right thing and may be late in rent payments, damage the property or not be ready for that inspection which results in a follow up inspection needing to be done. We are the mediator between the Tenant and the Owner and the enforcer of the rules, and for this, we are often the ones caught in the middle. For some this becomes too much and they leave the industry, or they just brush it off for someone else to deal with. For others such as myself, it pushes us to strive for a better world in which we work and to try and change peoples perspective of the infamous Property Manager. Being in real estate for the past 18 years I have seen so much change within our industry however our treatment has stayed consistent the whole way through.
While landlords get extremely good value for us to do this task no one else wants, we certainly don’t get to go on a Christmas holiday with tenant’s bond funds contrary to everyone’s beliefs. We go home and cry somedays because one of our favourite tenants has been diagnosed with cancer or we’ve stumbled across a death in one of our rentals. We clean properties ourselves because it isn’t up to our own standard and can’t bear to allow a tenant to move into a filthy property. We sympathize with our landlords that can’t afford for the property to be vacant but also need to sell and their tenant isn’t happy. We push our trades to give the best and cheapest service possible so the Owner isn’t out of pocket before their mortgage payment is due. We are required to terminate a tenancy on a family who can’t afford to pay the rent because they’ve lost their job and have no where else to go. We are often seen as the cause of the problem when we are merely the message giver.
When a job requires us to deal with such massive degrees of difficulty, we should be given the utmost respect for doing what we do however this sadly isn’t the case.
It is certainly not all bad though; we have massive highs of winning new business and beating our competitors to that awesome new property to manage, we create amazing relationships with our Tenants and Owners which often continue well on past their stay with our agency. We manage properties for years for some clients, meaning we become a part of their lives and they a part of ours. We have a huge level of appreciation to our trades people who quite regularly give up their weekends and nights to fix those hot water systems not working and always greet us with a smile even at 4.55pm on a Friday when all they want is that ice cold beer. Not to mention the amazing and equally crazy team that do this by our side each and every day and keep us all coming back for more. And sometimes and I mean sometimes we receive a heart felt gift of thanks for helping a tenant or managing a property for an Owner.
So the next time you are speaking with your Property Manager, just remember that we are only doing our job. We are not trying to make your life difficult, we don’t revel in the so called power trip of advising what needs to be done after you’ve vacated or that your water bill or rent needs to be paid. We aren’t trying to force you to use all your money and completely renovate your property. We are simply coming to work each day to manage the relationship between two people to reach a happy and mutual outcome. A smile and a thank you goes a long way in our world and costs nothing.
Written by Lisa Dunham
Senior Property Manager