Renting from a dodgy agent is as bad as renting a really crappy house. People might think that it is alright to have a dweeb for an agent because the house is good. Things do fall apart and the next thing you know, you are waiting for months to get anything fixed.
A couple of friends rented a place some years back. The apartment complex was large and there were over a hundred units. I wondered why they were renting out this place cheaply. The location was good as it was close to two tram lines and a train line. It was also equidistant to two high streets and the flat itself was large. After they have moved in, I noticed a faint gas smell. It was not coming directly from the stove but underneath the sink. I mentioned this to my friends who said they have been trying to have it fixed and the agent told them that this was an issue for the body corporate. Well, unless the rest of the residents are able to hold a barbecue party under their kitchen sink, this agent was definitely being lazy. It also places my friends in fiery danger. Took over 4 weeks before a gas plumber came over to fix the issue after repeated calls not only to the agent but also to the landlord.
The son of a previous client moved into a house that was quite dilapidated. Since I wanted to know if I should be open to the idea of having university students as clients, I took the case on to see the differences in requirements are for a professional and a student. Since the budget is lower the house that we both checked was rundown and was in the midst of a shoddy paint job, I was against this house. My client, Charles, (not his real name) was enamoured with the idea of beautifying the garden and emptying the shed that was filled with chicken manure. I made the assumption that a university student will not have time to do these tasks. Sure enough he did. What really concerned me was when the agent, seeing Charles’ enthusiasm, pulled me aside to say this to me, “I can not tell you this. An offer above the listed weekly rent helps with the success of an application.” I know this happens but I have never experienced a real estate agent who would have the audacity to mention that. Clearly his words were picked carefully. It doesn’t implicate him in any way and he did not make any reference to the house we were all standing in. Long story short, Charles got the house and was able to move in 6 days after the inspection. So this is what happened: the lone two heaters in the house do not work; the backdoor lock doesn’t work; the drain in the kitchen sink is blocked; there are cracks in some of the glass exterior windows. The agent also said during inspection that the landlord has no intention on repairing any damage that were already existing. He will, however, fix one of the heaters in the event both do not work. These are the reasons why I did not want Charles to submit an application. These things were eventually fixed after several months. Charles is very happy because he knew what he was going to get. Despite trying to dissuade him from this house, Charles is, in fact, very happy.
The point is, if you have a dodgy acting agent during the inspection, you are most likely to be astounded by the lack of customer service especially ones that relates to maintenance. It’s been over a year now since Charles moved in and once in a while I still get texts from him that starts with “I can’t believe the agent did not…. “. He is very happy with the house most of the times but I still need to suppress the urge to text him back, “I told you so.”.
Some time back, when I first was testing the market to see if the services of my company will be useful to the general public, I tried to help out a friend’s friend from Germany who moved to Melbourne to be a student. I thought this is a good opportunity to see if my decision to focus on professionals was indeed the right one. The thing is, I have seen how students live and they are able to make a house look like ground zero. I did not want to be associated with that because I didn’t want to have a bad reputation with the real estate agents who do give my clients preference.
My new client had no rental references in Melbourne but I do know that his parents were providing him with a stipend and this stipend was more than enough to cover all his monthly expenses. Should be easy, right? Well, it’s not. So eventually, I did find a house that has been on the market for quite some time. Looking at the photos, you’d wonder why this house didn’t get rented out. It had 4 bedrooms and two bathrooms and a back and front yard. It was a private viewing and my client said he would like to come along. The agent arrived 15 minutes late and continued talking on the phone in his Mercedes Benz. Hmmm, I wasn’t liking the feel of this.
He opened the door and the house was in the midst of a very bad painting job.There were paint on the floor, the glass windows, on the kitchen sink, the fireplace. It was as if the person doing the painting failed miserably in art class during his formative years. Assurances were made that those wayward paint strokes will be removed. Good! The kitchen wasn’t all that great and the cabinet doors were painted shut. The exposed pipe from the kitchen sink drained out to the garden. Voila! A water feature of food particles depositing on to the garden.
There was a backyard that looked like it has been neglected for over a year. The weeds were overgrown and I’m sure it was a rain forest in the making. The two sheds at the back housed chicken coops sans the chickens and there were manure and feathers. I decided not to get any closer. There was no point. I struck this out the moment I walked in. But my client wanted it. He thought it was brilliant and he could see the potential. Sure, the house is full of potential. In fact, it was ALL potential. I didn’t want my client to take the house because of one reason: I know what course he was enrolled in university and he will have to allot a significant amount of time to fix it. So against my advice, he said to start negotiating with the agent. Mind you, the location was perfect and the house was large.
The agent had a few disclaimers about the property. He said this house will be rented out as it is. The owner does not want to make any more improvements aside from removing all the out-of-place paint strokes around the house. There were two heaters: one in the living room and one in the kitchen. They will only fix one of them in the event both weren’t working. All the windows with broken glass will not be repaired. The kitchen sink and how it drains will remain as it is. And on a side note, in a hush hush tone, he said “I’m not supposed to tell you this as an agent but increasing the weekly rental on the application form gets a favourable response from the owners.” The rent was $680 per week and he said a rounder figure will make a difference between a successful and a rejected application.
We secured this rental house. And my client has transformed this dump into a very liveable space. The shed with the chicken coops were cleaned out and the wayward garden is now transformed into a beautiful vegetable and herb garden.