Award-winning principal Luke Carter explains to Residential Property Manager Stacey Moseley why his office receives virtually no complaints from tenants
LUKE CARTER, principal of Amber Werchon Property Caloundra in Queensland, devised a three step plan that has seen tenant complaints drop to zero.
“I can’t remember the last time we had a complaint,” Mr Carter says.
“We have been very lucky to have grown our rent roll from the start so we had very few problems with tenants. We made sure we hand picked tenants that suit our properties.”
According to Mr Carter, the main issues his property management department has had with problem tenants have occurred when the company has inherited a property from another real estate agency.
“I have heard of one PM for just fewer than 200 properties,” he recalls. “How is that person meant to be on top of so many clients and tenants?
“This is when property managers just rush to put the first person that fills out an application form into a house, but you are better to have an empty house than a bad tenant.”
For precisely this reason, Mr Carter and his property management team are “overstaffed”, with one manager for every 40 properties. It’s also why property managers at Amber Werchon Property Caloundra are very clear with their landlords and tenants about their approach.
“We make it very clear to landlords when we sign them up that it can take us up to a month to find a tenant for their property, because we are dedicated to finding the right tenant for the home,” he says.
“Because we spend more time looking for tenants in the initial stage, we find better tenants and it becomes easier to manage.
“Once we’ve found a tenant, or we pick up one from another agency, we actually go out to meet them, not just send out a letter. We discuss any problems they have had in the past and we explain to them why those things may have happened – or what we can do about it.
“Once you explain their responsibilities and rights they are usually easy to handle,” Mr Carter adds.
And tenants are as much his focus as landlords, he continues.
“Most agencies are focusing on the landlord because they pay the fees, but you don’t get the fees unless the tenant is in the property,” he says.
Since they began with this approach to relationships, Amber Werchon Property Caloundra has seen a 90 per cent renewal rate for leases.
“At our agency we have a staff member, Kristen, who is responsible purely for the leasing of property. I have found that when the tenant doesn’t know the landlord personally it is easier to blame them,” Mr Carter says.
“It creates a human side to the transaction.”
This approach involves sending the successful tenant a letter which states that while there were many good applications for the property, “I have gone out on a limb and recommended you because I think you would be the best tenant for this property.
“The landlord has gone with my recommendation and has approved your application, so please when you get into the property can you look after it like it was your own.”
“What that does is put a human face to their transaction,” Mr Carter says. “They feel a commitment to Kristen to do the right thing.”
Since introducing this dialogue into the process, Mr Carter has noticed a complete change with how tenants behave.
“The tenants know we have done something for them and so they choose to look after the house. They pay rents on time; tenants are even bringing in bottles of wine and chocolate for Kristen to say thank-you.”
Being proactive is another element of his office’s success, Mr Carter adds.
“Every couple of months our business manager, Amanda, calls all our landlords and tenants and touches base to find out how they are,” he says.