A real estate institute has voiced serious concerns over the increase in safety responsibilities outside the core competencies of property managers.
The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW) has said the extension of duties and responsibilities for property managers is a growing concern within the real estate space.
REINSW chief executive Tim McKibbin said over recent years there has been an escalation of the legal obligations associated with the role of property managers.
“The traditional role of a property manager, which is essentially to manage the relationship between the tenant and the landlord, has now been constantly expanded by expectations of the regulator – the government – and also landlords,” he told Residential Property Manager.
“We find now that property managers are expected to have almost a building qualification, or building knowledge.
“You have seen instances where balconies have collapsed and people have been injured and property managers are being dragged into that particular enquiry and have had to defend their actions.
“Property managers are now expected to have competencies and express an opinion as to the integrity and respective safety of a broad range of building and safety issues, including glass, asbestos, window safety locks, smoke alarms, decks and balconies, as well as swimming pools,” he added.
Mr McKibbin said when the government and landlords are pushing these responsibilities on to property managers, who do not have the training and competencies in this area, everybody is exposed to risk.
“I have written to the Office of Fair Trading expressing my concern and one of the issues I highlighted for their attention was the child safety lock issue, where property managers now under the inspection report are required to give an opinion on whether the child safety lock is working effectively,” he said.
“We believe it is appropriate to revisit the issue of ‘what is a property manager?’ in truth – what should be included in the role of a property manager and what is appropriate to be included in the role and what is not appropriate.
“We think that, and it might be symbolic in some people’s minds but certainly not in mine, a better term might be tenancy manager and not property manager.
“I think tenancy manager may be a far better term for the current property manager and I think that is probably a starting point,” he added.
PropertySafe managing director Phil Oakes said the levels of injuries and deaths in residential homes, whether they are owner occupied or tenanted, are simply too high.
“We’re proud to have entered into a strategic relationship with REINSW to address these issues,” he said.
“The statistics on injuries, deaths and claims are alarming, especially when a vast majority are avoidable with very little cost for the landlord.
“The family home is supposed to be a safe environment, [so] if an accident occurs the impact is devastating for all those involved.
“For rental properties this also has a big impact on the landlord and property manager, potentially both emotionally and financially.
“With the assistance of REINSW, we will be running workshops to show real estate professionals how they can regain control,” he added.