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The Unavoidable

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I am very grateful to have a wonderful Property Manager. Our Property Manager Sue (LJ Hooker Belconnen) has been keeping an eye on our property portfolio and actively communicating with us for the past seven years. She made our life much easier for the past two years while we live in Taiwan. She contacts us by emails, and I call her from time to time just to touch base and see how everything is going. During the last two year, there were about 85 emails she sent to us (including the reply emails). In most cases, she was just to inform us which property was due for a rent increase, which tenant was moving out/renewing their lease, or what maintainence requied to be carried out on which property if we agree.

The most recent email correspondence with Sue was because of the ducted aircondition unit in one of our properties. She outlined the problem and suggested what could be done. It’s going to cost us without doubt. However, her approach made us aware of what has been going on, what has been done so far, and what options we might have to solve this issue. She is clever and she attends to details. Most importantly, she keeps us informed before asking us making any decision. In the end we decided to go ahead to replace the aircondition unit (which costs us about $7350 AUD), as it has probably reached its use-by date and may cost us more to fix it in the long run. We value Sue’s advices, but we made our own informed decisions. Most of the time her advices were just spot on.

It’s not easy to work as a property manager, but it’s even harder for a property investor to find a reliable property manager. Some of the property investors think it is a mission impossible to find a good property manager, so they manage their own properties. I think it’s better to have the properties managed by the professionals, no matter how hard it can be to find a good property manager. Why? We are ‘buy and hold’ investors, and we would like to expand our property portfolio whenever possible. Therefore, as the number of the property grows, it can be quite a lot of work for ourselves to attend to each tenant’s needs.  More importantly, we would like to get on our work and family life with minimum impact caused by our investment.

Thankfully (touch wood! ) there were only two occasions where we had problematic tenants. I am glad they were both handled by our property managers. The first one was to chase the rent which was over due for over two months. The story started as this: There were two tenants signed up the lease agreement. One of the tenants moved out of the property. The other one could not afford to pay the full rent, so he decided to find other friends to stay with him. However his friends didn’t help much at all. Not until I found out the situation, the agency had done nothing in chasing up the over-due rental payment. They didn’t even inform me the situation until I called in.

‘Oh Sam~ we were just about to send them the notice. And we’ve been calling Andy almost everyday to chase the rent for you. He said he will pay this week.’  said Jane, the Principal of the agency.

‘It’s been over due for more than two months. And why Andy’s friend hasn’t been signed up?’

‘He told us he will come this Friday afternoon. Don’t worry. We will look after it for you’  she said with a smile which upset me more.

‘Jane, I want them out of our property. And I want them pay up before they move out. Take them to the tribunal if required.’ I made it very clear.

As a result in the end this case was brought up to the tribunal and we won surprisingly (We were extreamly lucky that Andy behaved very badly at the tribunal which must have pissed them off. Quite often the tribunal are not very friendly with the landlord as you might have heard a lot of the stories). We got the bond to cover part of the rent we should have received, and the tenants was asked to vacate the property. Lessons learnt from this case: Business is business. Find someone reliable to look after the properties. I would prefer to establishing business relationship based on one’s professionalism, rather than relying on a friend’s friend who thinks he/she is our friend and is doing us a big favour (does it make sense?). This case happened at very early stage of our property investment journey. We learnt and we moved on.

Although I was not happy with this agency (about a year later we took all our properties away from this agency due to some other issues. Enough is enough! ), I was glad I didn’t have to go to the tribunal myself. Working as a police officer at that time, I didn’t want to have involvement with disputs in my personal life. So that’s a good example why we prefer to use property managers.

By the way, Andy came by the property to pick up some belongings he left behind while I was painting the house on a Sunday afternoon. He parked his shiny big motor bike in front of the house. Took off his helmet. Combed his long blond hair before walking into the house. He asked me if I am the landlord, to which I replied that I am a friend of the landlord. He started complaining about “my friend” the landlord for about 20 minutes. He then concluded by saying:

‘Your friend kicked me out for no reason. Just because I didn’t pay the rent.’  He then walked out and rode away.

I was going to tell Andy “my friend” has to meet the mortgage repayment too. But I guess it’s too hard for Andy to understand. Some people….

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Author: Sam

My name is Sam. People call me ‘No Worries Sam’. I was born and grew up in Taiwan, before moving to Australia in 1997. Since then I have been a mail sorter (7am start!), a pizza deliveryman, a carpenter, a croupier, a bank teller and a mortgage broker before ending up as a police officer. But my passion is property. I like collecting investment properties, and I have been doing that since 2001. I currently have eight in Canberra, but I’m always looking for more. You could say my hobby is searching for the next property. I have even enjoyed holidays trawling potential properties with real estate agents. My idea of fun. I want to eventually make my hobby a full-time job. I have recently completed a buyer’s agent course with REINSW. But for now I have started this blog as a way to share my interest with other people.

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