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.
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.
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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