In the aftermath of the Brisbane floods, there were lots of stories circulating about the prospect of rents ‘skyrocketing’ due to higher demand, both from misplaced residents and from workers coming into the area for the reconstruction process.
BY VANESSA DE GROOT
I noticed that comments below those stories (on the internet) were quite often very scathing of landlords. Obviously written by tenants, they complained about ‘money hungry’ property investors, who are always seeking a buck and trying to get more out of renters, who can’t afford to buy a home themselves.
But while landlords were getting skewered for potentially rising rental rates, they were suffering in the aftermath of the floods, being unable to get any financial assistance, which has been of great concern for those landlords whose properties were damaged.
While money is being handed out (and rightly so) to residents who were impacted, which of course includes tenants, property investors have totally missed out. In fact, many have even regaled tales of being treated with disdain by people offering assistance, as soon as they find out they’re actually property investors.
The thoughts of many, I suppose, is that property investors can afford to pay for the damage out of their own pockets.
If they can afford to have an investment property, then it’s assumed they have squillions of dollars to play with.
I was even shocked to hear one of my friends – who’s renting a house in a flood-affected area, for which the landlord had to fork out considerable money to fix things like the hot water system because it went under – recently say "oh, don’t worry about the landlord, they’ve got plenty of money, they don’t deserve anymore". This is coming from someone who used to be a landlord themselves!
While some investors might be in a situation where they do have surplus funds at their disposal, I believe for the vast majority it’s almost the total opposite. Many property investors are just getting by; they’re trying to further their wealth prospects for the future, but in the process they’re certainly not flush with money. Often they’re meeting their commitments and don’t have a whole lot left over at the end of the day. So why should they be punished for wanting to secure themselves a good future?
Where does this negative attitude towards landlords come from? Is it merely the tall poppy syndrome, and people just don’t like those who seem to have more than them?
Or does it perhaps come from the way renters are treated? I used to be a renter and I can confess that I, too, had a lack of respect for my landlord, which admittedly, was probably a result of the way I was treated by the property manager.
Without property investors people who couldn’t afford to buy homes of their own wouldn’t be able to have a roof over their heads, because there wouldn’t be any homes to rent. So, in a way, shouldn’t we all be glad that there are investors out there?
Is there a way tenants and landlords can live harmoniously? I strongly believe that a tenant – as long as they’re doing the right thing – should be treated just the way that a landlord would like to be treated. And in most cases, that means they need to make sure their property manager is treating them well.
If the tenant is respected, surely they should also respect the landlord? That’s a mutually beneficial situation for both parties, I would have thought.
Once you’ve got a good tenant it’s beneficial for a landlord to treat them well, so they can keep them. I think perhaps even giving them a small present, like a bottle of wine or box of chocolates, after they re-sign a tenancy, could be a good way to maintain a good relationship.
The relationship between a landlord and a tenant should be thought of as a business-client relationship, just like it’s a business arrangement. And usually in business you can keep your clients happy if you treat them with respect and every now and then do a good deal for them. In tenancy agreements ‘a good deal’ might be not upping the rent by, say, $40 in one hit, but keeping increases minimal, especially if you’ve got a good tenant.
Similarly, in business, if a client is respectful towards the person providing the service, often that person is more willing to be of assistance and accommodate their needs.
Perhaps if tenants and landlords viewed their relationships more like this, it would be a more harmonious and understanding union.
What do you think about the attitude of tenants to landlords? Do you think there’s animosity from renters towards landlords? And do you think landlords treat renters well, in general? Is there anything we can do to improve relationships between the two?
Vanessa De Groot is the deputy editor of Australian Property Investor magazine, www.apimagazine.com.au