An aerial image service is proving effective as a property management tool, with a South Australia-based boutique property manager lauding its ability to help keep closer tabs on tenants.
Steadfast Property Managers principal Mark Leslie said he uses an online map source called ‘NearMaps’ - which is updated monthly - to keep a close eye on tenants for his landlords.
“We started having problems [with some tenants], so we started using Google maps and then we moved to NearMaps, which is much more up to date and a much higher resolution,” Mr Leslie told Real Estate Business.
“We catch people out all the time. It’s really how they look after their yard. Obviously we can only inspect it every three months,” he said.
“But when we say, ‘Shift that trampoline’ or ‘Please don’t park on the lawn’, we’re able to follow up on that and see that they’re still doing it.
“So we give them a call, and [if] they deny it we can say, ‘Sorry, on the 26th of August at 3:04PM you had your car parked on the lawn’, at which point they get extremely aggressive.
“People either say it’s an invasion of privacy or it’s stalking,” Mr Leslie said in relation to his company’s approach. “Or they love it. And as far as I’m concerned we work on behalf of the landlord.
“In fact one of the landlords told us he’d found someone out himself, because we don’t have time to check everyone.
“He found the tenant had erected a swimming pool, which was destroying the grass,” said Mr Leslie.
But NearMaps isn’t the only online source Mr Leslie uses.
“Some searches on dubious applicants came up on Facebook and Google. It's to see the types of photos and the functions they attend or the photos may have their house in them.
“We received a letter from an applicant with a company masthead and when we checked the street address we found it was a residential house. So a further Google search on the ABN found that it was a fake company.”
Greg Moulton, president of the Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA), told Real Estate Business that as long as publicly accessible and legally-sourced information was being used to monitor tenants, the company’s approach was acceptable.