Property manager tries to clean out investor



Think your property manager is a useless rotter? Spare a thought for WA investor Bronwyn Holmes who says she’s had to deal with unthinkable levels of incompetence

“Why do you build me up… just to let me down?” asks the Foundations classic Build me up buttercup. Investor Bronwyn Holmes finds herself asking the same question. 

With the promise of excellent returns and capital growth, she was expecting great things from a property she purchased in Port Hedland, WA, until her property manager started ruining the party. 

Hot fury

The trouble started when she needed repairs done on the property’s air-conditioning unit. Holmes says she asked her property manager to get multiple quotes for the repair work, which she requested despite a $130 charge per quote. She felt the huge difference in quotes would make it worth her while, but she underestimated the manager’s incompetence. 

“The first quote I got was $18,000!” she says. “Keep in mind that this was only a repair, not to replace the whole system or get a new gold-plated one. My property manager took no ownership of this and when I called her and asked if she thought the quote was realistic she said that she didn’t know and that the quote was simply what they said it should be.” 

Holmes requested more quotes and was told that additional ones had come back at $15,000 and $4,000, but neither of these were provided in writing. She decided on the latter figure, but a week later the tenants were complaining that it wasn’t working again. 

Round 2

When her property manager informed her that she would be required to fix the air-con again, Holmes told her to get in contact with the company that did the work, but came back flabbergasted at how the manager responded. 

“She said that because I used second hand parts it was my problem,” Holmes says. “I didn’t know they were using second hand parts so I insisted they repair it. I thought I had a win but then it again stopped working a few months later and I found out that they had installed the wrong size compressor.” 

By this stage the repair business had changed owners and the new owner refused to work on any previous repair work. Holmes tried to get her property manager to track the old owner down, but they would not and she had to bear the costs of another repair. 

“After such a poor result I asked to see the quotes that the property manager had used (for the second repair), but they couldn’t provide them. After many calls and emails they finally provided me with the quote for $15,000 but it was dated three weeks after the work had been done and it was written by the tenant!” 

Things fall apart

Holmes ran into similar trouble with a leaking tap. The minor repair job cost her $550 – work she could easily have done herself if she was there. She also received an additional quote for minor repairs amounting to $15,000. “Most of it was tenant damage,” says Holmes. “Once again the property manager just asked me to repair the whole lot and put no effort into looking at what the damage was or how silly the quote was. Fixing a loose door handle was charged at $760.” 

Holmes says the upside is that rents have continued to increase in Port Hedland. “Of course, we need the huge rents to cover the repair bills and the lack of care by the overpaid property managers.”

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  • Fiona's says on 06/12/2012 01:17:24 PM

    Wow, you poor buggar!! I would have hit the roof, and then some! I am assuming you have reported their slackness to the WAREI. My god, you wonder how this idiot has kept her job!! It appears to be an industry that attracts the not-very-smart, with no pro activity in their blood. I hope you can sort this out. If it were me I would sell it and buy something back in Perth where you can keep an eye on them.

  • Cheryl says on 06/12/2012 01:27:07 PM

    As a (reluctant) tenant in Port Hedland and I own 9 investment properties in other parts of Australia I have seen first hand the complete incompetence of property managers in Port Hedland - I could probably guess at which one you are talking about but they really are all as bad as each other, with rents at around $3000/week and incredibly high management costs - i would certainly recommend any investor manage their own properties here. The cost savings are enormous and quite frankly any average 10 year old could do a better job than the property managers here.

  • Sarah says on 06/12/2012 02:34:47 PM

    I work in the industry and have the unique perspective of also being an investor as well.

    Sounds like you need to report your property manager to REIWA if you haven't already or at least bring it to the attention of the principal. Property managers are supposed to act in your best interests when maintaining the property and it looks like yours certainly isn't. the fact that she tried to charge you for tenant damage shows she has no idea of the rules and regulations and this certainly needs to be addressed.

    It also sounds like the calibre of the tradespeople that they are using is quite poor. I would look into which groups are reputable trades people and get it noted on your file your preferred suppliers so they don't use anyone shonky.

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