Freebie to Help You Play It Safe with Blinds

Consumer Affairs Victoria will give you a free safety kit. Give them a call or visit consumer.vic.gov.au.

Tragically, at least 15 Australian children have died in strangling incidents related to blind and curtain cords since the early 1990s, including two Victorian infants late last year.

Wooden and slimline venetians have been very popular in renovations over the past ten years so there are lots of these cords about.

Children – particularly infants – can become entangled in looped curtain and blind cords. This includes cords they can reach from furniture, beds or cots.

Although safety standards now apply to new curtain or blind cords, you should check all cords in your home to make sure they are safe.

One of Our Worst Nightmares

There are warnings all over the media. Look out for drug houses. The police send information to managing agents like us. At Planinsek Property we have discussed any times the procedure we need to have in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen to one of our landlord’s property. But it did.

The usual checks were done when the tenants, two adults and a baby, applied for the property. All looked good when the tenancy started. Rent was paid on time. The first inspection was conducted at three months into the tenancy.

In Victoria, as in other States, it is legislated how often routine inspections can be conducted. For us it is only once every six months and the first one has to be at least three months after the start of the tenancy. We schedule them at the three and nine month mark.

At the three month routine inspection the usual photos were taken. The property was being well maintained by the tenant. The property manager was pleased.

But then we had to arrange another visit to the property by the company which does the annual checkup of the smoke detectors which is required by law.

Surprise. Surprise.

The fire protection company guy was very quick to tip us off it was a drug house.

The photos are amazing  – four months after the routine inspection. What a before and after. Our staff have learned a lot about what these drug growers do to a building with bypassing electricity meters, running wires through the roof and cutting holes in ceilings. Lots of mess and damage.

Imagine restoring this four bedroom home. Imagine the cost.

If you are an investor the first question I ask you is “Do you have landlord insurance?” The second question is “How much will your policy cover? Is there a shortfall?” We are not insurance brokers and cannot give advice but we have learned that not all policies are equal as we do many different type of claims on behalf of our landlords and some policies exclude things that other policies cover. So understand your insurance policy.

What Property Managers Are Saying…

Around the office: Lately I have had a couple of very distressed property managers on behalf of their landlords. It seems a tenant can continue to live in a property without paying rent for up to three months just by knowing the system and using it to their  advantage.

My advice to property investors is to  understand how VCAT works and what can  happen there. In that way you are prepared for  the worst and will  understand what your  property manager is doing on your behalf.  Read on to understand what can  happen with  rent arrears.

When I first came into real estate  after being school  principal at MLC Junior  School it seemed I was a bit  naïve when it came to VCAT. At the end of the first hearing I attended the member gave his decision and asked if I wanted to add anything. I said that I thought my landlord had not received justice. He smiled and said very politely, “Mrs Planinsek, what makes you think this has anything to do with justice.”

Property Manager - JaydenWhen a tenant doesn’t pay their rent our property managers follow correct procedure and issue a Notice to Vacate as soon as they are legally allowed to. They then apply for a hearing date at VCAT. This can be two to three weeks away (and occasionally longer). So the day of the hearing arrives.

By now the tenant has been living in our landlord’s property for five weeks without paying rent. A couple of times recently the tenants didn’t attend the hearing. We (on behalf of our landlords) were granted possession of the property (i.e. the tenant has to move out). We followed correct procedure with the warrant and police.

This can take one to two weeks depending on the availability of the police. Then surprise, surprise the day the property manager had arranged to attend the property with the police officer the tenant contacts VCAT. They plead their case and VCAT postpones the warrant and sets a new hearing date, which can add an extra couple of weeks. Remember meantime our landlord is still not receiving rent. Our worst experience so far is when the tenant did attend the next hearing and was granted a payment plan. The tenant didn’t follow the payment plan and so we had to reopen the file at VCAT and go back again, and again and again. Each time there is a warrant, a time arranged with the police and so on.

We have had 3 and 4 appeals by some tenants. They stay in the property the whole time not paying rent. Eventually they will be evicted but in the meantime all the time and money spent on the process is huge. Where is the justice for the landlord? I forgot, VCAT is not about justice! BUT my advice for the prudent property investor is make sure you have landlord insurance which covers all or part of loss of rent.

I am happy to discuss this or other landlord issues or answer questions. Give me a call on 0413 740 917 or drop me an email at toni@planinsekproperty.com.au