Compensation claims around property safety compliance have increased exponentially – with property management divisions bearing the brunt.
Back in 2003, one in every 2,000 agencies received a property safety compensation claim. Ten years on, in 2013, that figure had grown to one-in-nine agencies.
Phil Oakes, managing director of PropertySafe, said property management is one of the toughest roles he knows of, with 'safety inspector' being one of the many hats PMs are increasingly expected to wear in their line of work.
“It is one of the industries where if they do it perfectly, they are just doing their job. If they mess up at all, they are at fault,” Mr Oakes told Residential Property Manager. “They are a sales consultant, they have to find the right tenant for the property, they have got to be a diplomat when handling landlords and tenants, they have got to be an accountant, a debt collector and all these other things – and now, on top of that, a safety inspector.
“To be brutally honest, the technology and systems that they work with have lagged behind other industries, so the expectations on them have grown so dramatically, but the systems that support them haven’t grown at the same speed.”
Mr Oakes said property safety inspections place PMs in a high risk area for litigation.
“It is really throwing PMs into deep water – they are not qualified builders, they can’t look for these things.”
Commenting on the huge increase in claims since 2003, Mr Oaks said, “The big thing that comes out of that, is the majority are in property management, so that is where the driver is. It has grown exponentially.
“We are in this grey area when it comes to property safety and we are working with both the REINSW and the REIQ, who are talking to the relative housing ministers about what we can do to take out this grey area and the unnecessary deaths and injuries.
“It is all about controlling what you can but accepting you can’t control everything.”
Leading Property Managers of Australia executive director Bob Walters said their recent roundtable drew a lot of discussion around the benefits PropertySafe can offer PMs in regards to keeping properties' safety compliance in check.
“I know the property management software providers like Rockend and Console and others do have some maintenance modules in there, but this is one that is vastly more detailed than that,” he told Residential Property Manager.
“There were quite a few members that had started using the software and they were all speaking about it in glowing terms.”