Sunday, September 03, 2006

Independent Property Group regularly makes me cry

You may remember this, this and this.

Whatever the complete opposite of 'in love' is, I am in it with the real estate company that manages our property on behalf of the landlord. I am no longer inclined to keep their name secret.

INDEPENDENT PROPERTY GROUP is a bad property manager. INDEPENDENT PROPERTY GROUP does not get repairs done on time or, like, EVER.

I have just sent them the following email:

Subject line: [Address]: two years on


In last night's rain the roof leaked again. In the usual places. And the hole in the bedroom ceiling still hasn't been repaired. Please refer to the email and photos we sent you (twice) in June.

The water from the balcony is still seeping into the spare room, where I think the carpet is now beyond repair.

Also, the doorknob to the bathroom door came off in my hand this morning.


From previous experience I would say that any of the first five responses below are possible. The sixth is just not going to happen. Anyone care to place a bet?

(1) No response at all

(2) A semi-literate email explaining that everyone in the office is away right now and they will contact us when something can be done. Followed by silence.

(3) A semi-literate email claiming that they have passed on the message to the appropriate people. Followed by silence for several weeks. And when we follow it up they claim they have been 'trying to get in touch' but that we are never available (despite the fact that they have four contact numbers for us and never leave messages on any of them.)

(4) Swift repairs to the doorknob, while completely ignoring the main problem.

(5) They send Tony the roof guy (aka Tony the plumber, aka Tony the electrician) around, he spends an hour or so on the roof and claims to have fixed it. We have to wait for the next rain to be sure it is no longer leaking before they can repair the actual hole in the ceiling or plaster damage. The next rain doesn't come for six weeks (this is Australia), but when it does, nothing has changed.

(6) They fix the problem swiftly and keep us informed at all stages of the process. The roof never leaks again.

(And don't tell us to move. Just don't, okay? The mere thought of it makes me cry.)


Lucy said...

Argh! I'll keep my fingers crossed for #6, but I hope it doesn't rain again for a while, at least.

wolfa said...

Do you have the option of withholding rent? Or some sort of board you can go to where they require that the work be done in some reasonable time period? You may also be allowed to petition for a rent decrease because of this.

StyleyGeek said...

We are not allowed to withhold rent. But we can request a rent decrease. Except that the people we would be requesting it from are the property managers, and they have no reason to say yes.

If we request a rent decrease because of it, and they refuse us, then according to the tenancy advisory people, we have the 'right' to 'move out without the usual six week notice'. Yay.

Rebecca said...

My daughter had a similar problem once, and they were allowed to put their rent into some kind of escrow account until the landlords fixed the problem. They ended up taking the opportunity to break their lease, but it doesn't sound like you want to go that route.

Is there any chance that some of these things constitute health code violations? That may be your only leverage if you don't want to move.

betty said...

yikes! that sounds miserable! what's the housing market like in your area? here if you threaten to move you can sometimes get rent decreases or, in your case, repairs. on the flip side i know people who have promised to sign an extra year's lease early and maybe you could leverage that? this only works if you moving is a big threat to them.

whatever happens i hope that no more rain leaks into your house. too bad there isn't some faster way to find out if the roof was actually fixed - short of going on the roof with tony (which just doesn't sound very fun...or smart)


StyleyGeek said...

Threatening to move is probably not going to help, since they can't build inner-city apartments fast enough to keep up with the demand and an inner-city apartment is what we have.

I'll have to look into the health thing. Certainly there is a lot of mold around the part of the ceiling where the rain is coming through. That can't be good. But I don't know if Australia even has the equivalent of a health code thingy, let alone what would violate it.

grace said...

Does Aust have no equivalent of the NZ "10-day letter"? The landlord (or their agent) has 10 working days to fulfill their responsibilities...or the Tenancy Tribunal can order the work to be done. In my experience of flatting in NZ, a 10-day letter can produce surprisingly prompt service from otherwise-useless landlords.

I wonder if you could find out who owns the building? In NZ that is publically-available information. If they knew the property managers were letting the place go to rack and ruin I'm sure they would be horrified, and act decisively.

StyleyGeek said...

Grace, here is the paragraph from the Tenants' Union website:

"Initially you should write a "Notice to Remedy", pointing out the lessor's obligations under cl55 of the Prescribed Terms, and setting a time limit for completion of the repairs.

If the NtR does not achieve the desired result, you may have grounds for termination of the agreement for breach. You should get specific advice before embarking on this course of action.

Alternatively, you can take the matter to the Residential Tenancies Tribunal. The Tribunal may make an order requiring performance of the agreement, or requiring payment for compensation for breach of the agreement. "

So this "Notice to Remedy" should be the first step. But I've downloaded a copy of this (it's a set form) and basically it is a threat that we will move out if the repairs are not carried out within 14 days. And we don't want to move out! I don't even want to threaten it, since they could easily get replacement tenants, and we are not on a long-term contract with this place -- they can give us six weeks' notice at any time and ask us to leave.

As for taking them to the Tenancies Tribunal, it's quite expensive.

So although there are things we could probably do, they are kind of scary and time-consuming, and I'd rather just whine about things on the internet until they bloody well fix the place :)

Miss M. said...

Could they really get replacement tennants so easily with a mouldy hole in the roof? Seems crazy. Surely its in their best interests to fix the place up, eh? Some peoples minds work in strange ways.

StyleyGeek said...

Yeah, I guess they'd still have to fix the roof before they could get anyone else in. So we'd probably be safe threatening to move out. The thought of moving again just upsets me so much that I'm probably irrationally scared of things backfiring. And I'm also scared of being seen as a 'difficult tenant' since we have to get good references from this property manager in order to have a chance of ever being able to rent anywhere else.

wolfa said...

You have the worst tenants rights stuff I ever heard of. But before you give up on it, check out your university or whatever, because tehre should be some sort of tribunal that decides on rent decreases etc, not your very own landlords. (I found one site that seems to suggest that you have more rights than you think, though not to withhold rent. I am amazed that it's not an option.

It looks like you do not have to threaten to move. You do want to make sure that they cannot evict you once you've made a complaint, though.

Renting issues suck.

shrinkykitten said...

There's an apartment open in my building! Move here! It's one of the two bedrooms which means it is funky and HUGE!

StyleyGeek said...

Wolfa, thanks for the googling on my behalf. That was the site I found that said the stuff I pasted into the comment above. The 'Notice to Remedy' they say you should send is a threat to move. The pdf form downloadable from the Tenancies Tribunal site basically says that they have to fix the problem within 14 days or else:

"if the breach is not remedied within the required 14 days I may, in accordance with the Act, serve you with a NOTICE OF INTENTION TO VACATE the premises".

But it doesn't matter anyway, because I'm moving in with Shrinkykitten :)

StyleyGeek said...

Oh, and those caps were in the original; I wasn't shouting at you :)

grace said...

Hmm, that is very crappy that you have to threaten to leave in order to get them to do something. In NZ you just threaten to tell the Tenancy Tribunal about them (which AFAIK is free, yay NZ!)

I do think it might be worth considering tracking the owner down. If the roof is leaking and not being fixed, their asset is being damaged. Property managers are PAID to deal with all that stuff on behalf of the owner, and if they are not doing their job, they can be relieved of their duties. If the owner was a sane kind of person they would be very grateful to you, and I'm sure they'd write you a glowing reference :-)

StyleyGeek said...

Maybe I should try that. I think the owner's name was on the lease. I should be able to find them based on that.

Weekend_Viking said...

Well, it's not just you - the guttering and patio on our place in Aranda was damaged in a storm in january, allowing possums full reign in the roof. Despite multiple letters, meetings and cranky phonecalls, no repairs had been made by the time we vacated at the end of July, and the geologists now in the place are still having the same problem. We never had leaky mouldy holes, but we did have possums playing soccer in the roofspace, and shagging, and trying to potshot the canadians by punching the light fittings out of the roof at them.

So Peter Blackshaw Belconnen appear to be just as bad, with the institutional memory of a goldfish.

This sort of thing is why I really prefer ChCh or Dunedin student hovels - they are hovels, but if you get the right sort, they can be mantained by a tenant with a basic grasp of hammer and nails and some painting ability, and the landlords never notice the repairs happening because they haven't seen the place in 20 years and don't know what it looks like any more.

Miss M. said...

WeekendViking - that reminds me so much of my mothers stories about flatting in Dunedin. A bunch of family friends of ours who were big on climbing used to try to get from one end of the hallway to the other without touching the floor, and the landlord never noticed the holes in the walls.

Pity that sort of thing can't find a foothold here.

StyleyGeek said...

Have you seen Scarfies? It's a great movie about a bunch of Dunedin students who move into an unoccupied, falling down house, and discover a huge amount of marijuana growing in the cellar, which, of course, they sell (without knowing the market price, so for way less than it's worth), only to have the former owners come back to harvest it, with unfortunate consequences.

Very funny movie. Also very reminiscent of my time as a student in NZ (just without all the gang members) :)

StyleyGeek said...

Grace -- looks like we have a chance to talk to the guy who owns the place! Independent contacted him about having the doorknob repaired (looks like we are going for option 4 this time) and he is coming around on Friday to repair it himself!

I think I'll take the opportunity to give him a tour of the water damage to his investment.

Weekend_Viking said...

I'll just note here that the house used as the flat in Scarfies was one of my sister's old flats from when she was doing her med degree.

StyleyGeek said...

Has there been any movie filmed in NZ that your family wasn't involved in? :)

Enny said...