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How to complain about a property manager?

Hi.
we have had an investment property managed by a real estate agent for 12 years. The time came to sell and after the tenants left we inspected the house and were shocked and appalled at it’s condition. I won’t go into detail here, but suffice to say the list of damages and extreme dirtiness was long.
Our question to the Agent was, if they had been doing the required quarterly inspections, how was it that the place was in such a state? How is it that items tenants had been asked to fix up to two years before remained when they vacated the house.Why had we not been told about the problem and advised to give the tenants notice?
We have managed to recoup some of the costs via the bond and Landlord insurance, but we remain out of pocket by many thousands of dollars. The Agent of course is not interested in helping out.
In terms of making a formal complaint about the Agent, I have made enquiries of REIWA, Dept of Commerce and of Consumer Protection. I have “googled”. All to no avail.

Can anyone advise me on how we can make a formal complaint about an Agent?
thankyou

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Hi @Jenwren, welcome to the forum and also for sharing the problems you are currently having.

Unfortunately this forum isn’t a place to obtain legal advice and as it could fall in a civil claim against the agent, it may be worth considering getting specialist legal advice on where you stand and where your legal rights may be.

How the agent was commissioned and agreements in relation to their property management services they provide may also need to be considered to see if they have some responsibility in relation to the situation you find yourself in.

Also, there is the REIA who you may also be able to contact for advice and also provide information on the best place to lodge a complaint.

https://reia.asn.au/consumers/complaints/complaint/

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FWIW the page you linked refers one to reiwa.com.au and commerce.wa.gov.au for problems in WA, noting

It appears theproblem is out of scope for going to https://www.sat.justice.wa.gov.au/

Therein lies the most probable path forward if the cost can be justified against the losses and an appropriate solicitor can be engaged. Note that some solicitors will protect and defend ‘your’ rights to your last dollar so if you go that route go with eyes wide open - presenting you with an overly-confident prognosis can suggest that.

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Welcome to the CHOICE Community @Jenwren. I hope you benefit from your interactions on this site and I look forward to your future inputs as well.

As the others have said getting legal advice is a step you should take. There is a possibility that you could lodge a claim in your Civil & Administrative Tribunal for compensation but you definitely need that legal advice first to see if it is worthwhile and if it is doable.

If you fail there or you choose to bypass that forum you may also consider going to higher courts in your State/Territory. Again this requires legal advice from competent legal experts.

I think the ACL (see quote below re Services from the ACCC site) regarding Services may cover your dealings with the Agent but again you need legal advice:

"Services must:

  • be provided with acceptable care and skill or technical knowledge and taking all necessary steps to avoid loss and damage
  • be fit for the purpose or give the results that you and the business had agreed to
  • be delivered within a reasonable time when there is no agreed end date."

&

" Services

You can claim a remedy from the supplier if the services do not meet any of the consumer guarantees in relation to services. Remedies include cancelling a service and in some cases compensation for damages and loss."

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This advice is a bit late for Jenwren.
I have always regarded the management of my rental property as a partnership. At each inspection my Property Manager sends me the photos & assessment. I review these and raise any issues with her. If I don’t get billed for work I requested, I follow this up with her, she also assesses and passes on any requests from the tenants and may offer a range of solutions and quotes. I also have a schedule of capital works (renovate kitchen, paint etc). She understands that I am a responsive & reputable landlord and finds me good tenants - in fact we have a waiting list.

If I am not happy for any reason, I escalate it to her manager (the owner of the business) - I’m not being nasty; that one was new in the job and obviously unaware of what constituted “urgent” works (no water, & sewer overflowing; left for a month) you can lose good tenants that way,

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My former business partner used to tell of how he and his wife rented out their home in Brisbane when they moved to Sale when he was working in the offshore oil industry.

The reports from the agent would regularly list payments for a variety of repairs without any great details, so when they were back in Brisbane on one occassion, he visited the property to check if the tenants were happy, and he mentioned in passing that there had been a lot of repairs, much to the tenants’ surprise, who said they had not requested any.

What was that old saying about when the cat is away, the mice will play?

On the other hand, whilst our daughter and her husband were worrking overseas. their properties were managed by a highly reputable local agency who would contact me with the reports of any problems from the tenants and quotes in writing to rectify any problems for prior approval.

The agency also provided the reports of regular tenancy inspections and the result of any follow-up inspections.

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Thankyou to all that have responded to my question - my first experience on the forum and much appreciated!
It seems seeking the assistance of a lawyer is our only option - it’s not a DIY situation.
We will need to consider this carefully.
One of the things I found interesting (and a bit annoying) during my research prior to posting on the Forum, is that to make a complaint via REIA in WA means taking it to Consumer Protection. But, as this is an investment property, we are not considered “consumers”.
Tenants can make complaints against landlords and Real Estate Agents, and action can be taken against tenants by landlords, but landlords cannot complain about Managing Agents.

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Some lawyer firms can give ‘free’ advice at first consultation. It may he worth exploring.

Choice has also covered legal fees in the past as well which might be of interest…

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Legal advice can be obtained for free in every State. We have listed some of the free providers on the CHOICE Community. I recommend you check them out first as it may save you a great deal of money if you get the advice via these legal services:

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