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How PMs can help victims of domestic violence

By Juliet Helmke
16 November 2021 | 1 minute read
How PMs can help victims of domestic violence

A Queensland organisation supporting victims of domestic and family violence (DFV) has commented on the unique role property managers can play in observing – and helping – when a potentially harmful situation is taking place.

Across Australia, states and territories have enacted laws in the housing sector to ensure that victims of DFV are able to quickly and safely vacate rental properties – regulations that property managers will be well aware of.

But according to Fiona Caniglia, executive director of Q Shelter, property managers may also find themselves uniquely placed to assist victims of DFV because of particular aspects of their job.

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“[Property managers] have quite a personal relationship with people because they do enter the space that should be safe but isn’t always,” Ms Caniglia told Rob Doorey during a recent episode of REIQ Property Brief.

Because of the necessity to conduct routine inspections and enter people’s homes, Ms Caniglia said property managers have more insight than most when it comes to viewing people’s personal lives. 

And even outside the home, Ms Caniglia stated that property managers might be the first to receive notices or comments that could point to potentially harmful situations, such as by fielding noise complaints or concerns from neighbours. She suggested property managers should seek out what is driving these complaints in order to understand what is going on.   

“People may be hearing or seeing things that they don’t think are right, and these complaints come from a good place, and they are intended to help and ensure the whole community, including that house, are safe.”  

When in the property, she said that property managers, as professionals trained to be attuned to detail, should put their skills to good use.

“There may be things that you might observe in a property that will make you concerned, and these observations should extend to the people living there, like if someone is bruised or injured.”  

She acknowledged, however, that knowing what to do with this information can be challenging.   

Ms Caniglia cautioned that any action should begin with consulting with your manager or the organisation that you work for. Your safety is a priority, and you will need support for any further steps you might take.

An agency that suspects they may be dealing with domestic violence on one of their properties is advised to reach out to a local or state-wide DFV service for advice before interacting with a tenant.   

“There are some questions you can ask in that situation once you approach a tenant about damage, arrears or other things you have observed,” Ms Caniglia said, noting that a DFV service will be able to help you tailor your approach to the context at hand.

And she also noted, “It’s absolutely okay to try and start a conversation by asking somebody ‘are you okay?’. It’s a simple question but also really important because it may provide an opportunity for the person to talk about their situation.”  

Staying in touch with DFV organisations as this conversation continues will help property managers and management companies navigate this process.

How PMs can help victims of domestic violence
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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