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Should tenants be banned from final inspections?

14 May 2014 Steven Cross

Following last week’s violent outburst from a tenant who sent his property manager to hospital, many in the industry are calling for tenants to be banned from the final inspection.

Yesterday, Residential Property Manager reported on a Western Australian property manager who was attacked during an outgoing inspection.

Property managers from around the country expressed their sympathy for the property manager and their anger that she was placed in such a risky situation.

Speaking with Residential Property Manager, industry veteran Julie Smart from First National Real Estate Townsville said she fought the legislation when it first came into her state of Queensland.

“I started working in real estate in 1984, so when they brought this legislation in I was very vocal about it because I knew it would put a lot of property managers in risky situations.

“If a tenant is going to get aggressive it’s going to be during the vacate,” she said.

According to Ms Smart, property managers are generally young females who are already at a greater risk of being assaulted.

“We’re putting them in situations where they have to tell the tenant when the outgoing inspection will be. The tenant can tell their family and friends if they wanted to completely outnumber them, and I think it’s very risky to put anyone in that position," she said.

“You could send more than one person, but that’s just costing twice as much for each inspection.”

While there is a level of protection at a court or tribunal hearing, without a third party things can spiral out of control quickly.

“My girls here know that if they become uncomfortable in any situation they can just walk out – but sometimes it’s not that easy to just walk out, such as this situation in WA,” said Ms Smart.

Western Australia’s acting commissioner for consumer protection, Gary Newcombe, told Residential Property Manager that the newly established laws are for the benefit of the tenant.

“The Residential Tenancies Act amendments, which came into effect in Western Australia on 1 July 2013, included the requirement for the tenant to be given a reasonable opportunity to be present at the final property inspection," he said.

“This is an important new right intended to diminish disputes about the state of rented premises at the end of a tenancy. It should be noted that there are many occasions during the life of a tenancy when property managers have to deal face-to-face with tenants.

“Real estate agents need to assess the risk faced by property managers in dealing with particular tenants and have strategies in place to manage this risk. One option is to have a third party present if they have any concerns.

“Any acts of violence by tenants are not acceptable and should be reported to the police.”

While the husband of the assaulted property manager believes he will find little help from the police and justice system, Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) president David Airey said he would personally take the matter to the government.

“I hope this basher was reported to police and he is charged with assault, jalied or fined heavily and prevented from renting again in the private system," he said.

“Property managers put up with enough without being bashed on top of the verbal abuse, swearing and threats they cop from some ungrateful slobs who think they can trash and wreck someone’s home and get away with it."

“I will make sure that this matter is brought to the Minister's attention as well as Department of Commerce.”

Should tenants be banned from final inspections?
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