Sadly a fair number fit into the heading’s description.

On Site Managers, or the Owners of Management Rights (OSMs I’ll call them) in Complexes fall into a wide number of categories.  I’ve worked with some, butted heads with others, been subjected to their lack of professionalism and incompetence as a tenant, and watched as they’ve been caught cooking the books.

There are the innocent fools who retire with a decent payout, wander up to their Rose Tinted View of the Gold Coast and think they’re buying an “Idyllic Lifestyle”.  Within a few months they’re overwhelmed by moaning and complaining tenants on one side, and whining, uncooperative and tight fisted Landlords on the other.  If they deal with a half decent Strata Management Company they’re lucky but if not, it just adds another layer of crap to a rapidly decomposing situation.

In most cases they’ve paid too much for the Rights and have only completed a 5 day basic course before being thrown in the deep end.  They’re inexperienced, out of their depth and generally get crankier by the day.  No-one’s willing to help as everyone has their own agenda and aren’t interested in their problems. They are expected by landlords, tenants and holiday makers to “know that they’re doing”.

The situation rapidly deteriorates and it’s not long before the Rights are back on the market.  Everyone in the industry “knows” they’re desperate to “escape”. The first (low, read -loss making) offer is snapped up and they disappear, tails between their legs to buy a coffee shop.

The Rights are often bought by professional, mmmm, let’s call them “Flickers” shall we?  I’ve run into a couple of sub groups here too.  Just plain mongrels out for a quick profit at any (and everyone’s) expense and real Pros who build value back into the business and know how to properly and fairly deal with residents, tenants, holiday makers, landlords and the Strata Managers. The latter are great people to deal with.  Sure they will sell the Rights in 2 to 3 years but at the end the whole complex or building will be better for their experience and tenacity.

Con artists, liars and thieves make up too large a percentage. The true and devastating to downright unbelievable stories (if it weren’t for the Court Transcripts), are out there. Many in Court with the Office of Fair Trading and Fraud Squads involved or civil actions afoot.

See my 01 November 2012 post entitled “Hand Me That Rope” for one example of some really bad corporate behaviour.

I’ve listed many townhouses and Units for sale in complexes.  It pays huge dividends in terms of reduced stress and a faster sale for an Agent to ensure a great relationship exists with the OSMs. Often this proves impossible to attain.

You see, an Agent has no control over who buys the property.  One person’s money is as good as the next.  If the complex is “too well kept” and the facilities “too nice”, owner occupiers will want to buy and move in, and who can blame them?  Every owner occupier who moves in and takes a property out of the letting pool costs the OSM their rent commission, expense add-ons, letting fees and a large capital loss as they lose an agency.  Depending on the annual “take” for the property, this capital loss can amount to $10,000.00 or more. No wonder they aren’t happy when a Unit comes on the market!

I’ve had OSMs come into a property when I’ve had inspections on by potential buyers and try to talk down the property and interfere with the sales process.  Not one to shy away from my obligations to my client, the seller, I’ve had many a boisterous argument with these idiots.  I’m not an inexperienced salesman and know my Legislation inside out.  One I recall had to be threatened with the complete loss of his licence by an Office of Fair Trading Inspector after I made a phone call, before he’d back off and keep out of my way.

An owner occupier did buy the lovely townhouse and later reported to me that they’d been harassed and driven mad by the OSM for 6 weeks after they moved in.  I intervened with yet another phone call to the Office of Fair Trading and they paid a personal visit.  He pulled his head in.

In other cases I’ve been denied keys because the OSM claimed the necessary paperwork for entry was never received.  That’s an old trick.  I always used to fax and request a return fax following a phone call 60 seconds after I sent my fax. I liked to have them tied in knots. It did make them very cross at times. My heart bled…

There are the back-hander kings and queens who have to be seen and heard to be believed.  If you as a Landlord, have a quiet chat with some OSMs and agree to do certain things, your unit will be full all the time and have minimal problems.  Your refrigerator, washing machine, dryer and microwave will never break down, furniture never wear out and you’ll never get a bill for anything.

As you can appreciate, this will be a “Cash” arrangement.  If your refrigerator blows up it will be quietly swapped for one in another unit. The repair or replacement bill will be sent to the other owner who has either not agreed to participate in the cash scam or lives overseas or so far away that the deception will probably never come home to roost.  In the same way furniture will be swapped, with repair and maintenance bills heaped on hapless and defenceless owners.

I helped in a couple of cases where owners had approached me for advice. I recommended the use of micro dots to identify a large number of items in the apartment or unit.  These weenie dots are barely 1 millimetre across, virtually invisible to the naked eye and are read using a combination of ultraviolet light and a magnifying glass.  The data dots are etched with a unique code  which can be entered into a web based database.  Police just love them because they make stolen property recovery a breeze.

We completed an Inventory, applied the data dots and digitally photographed the items from many angles as well as the location of the data dots on each item.  We also made many more obvious marks, symbols and “Property Of….” marks with a permanent marker… and waited.

It didn’t take long.

White goods started moving around and being swapped for lesser items. Permanent marks were wiped off with solvent.  Often it was so obvious as to be laughable with different brand and size refrigerators being substituted.  Imagine living in New Zealand or Malaysia and trying to be “aware”, let alone “exercise any sort of control” of this kind of blatant fraud?

We involved the Police, presented our “evidence and statements” and left them to it.

To be continued…

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