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Real estate agent blames drug for falling tenancy standards

Wednesday, 13th January, 2016

By Emily Roberts

A local real estate agent says the drug ‘ice’ is behind a marked decline in the general behaviour of tenants in recent years.

Clifford Wren has had some terrible experiences with rental properties and, while he is out of the rental business now, he believes a lot of it has to do with drugs.

“After 11 years of renting under the Ray White banner, we have had some poor experiences,” Mr Wren said yesterday.

“It was a great experience to start with but the last two years it has gone south in a big way.”

Mr Wren said he blames the recent turnaround on “the new drug on the street”.

“I think ice (methamphetamine) has a lot to do with it.

“I feel sorry for the kids. You would see young toddlers running around a house with no adult supervision.

“We’ve found people dead in the house during routine inspections. We’ve had to throw people out of the office and secure the premises due to abuse from clients.”

He said the non paying of rent was also a big problem.

“It wasn’t only mistreating houses, but we had rental arrears owing,” he said.

“There were 600 houses that we had as rental properties in Broken Hill.

“At any given time we could have $40,000-$50,000 owed to us from arrears and that’s from not having paid rent for 14 days and beyond.

“The total arrears could be $60,000-$70,000 at any one time.

“We had a vast list of people we won’t rent to. It is well over 500 people.”

Mr Wren said they would have to issue relevant notices through the Property, Stock and Business Act.

Failing that they would go to the NSW Civic and Administration Tribunal, which meets only once a month in Broken Hill.

“Once the process has started it could be three or four months before the issue is sorted.

“If is it not sorted, then we have to issue more documents and issue a warrant for the tenant to leave the property.

“The court’s sheriff will deliver that and if the tenants don’t leave, they call police for immediate eviction.

“When people are two, three or four weeks behind in rent and then they damage the property or just abandon it.”

He said it wasn’t just tenants, but landlords as well.

“There are bad landlords out there; there are some great tenants out there.

“It goes both ways. Some landlords it was like trying to get blood out of a stone for money for maintenance.

“Even if the tenant was up to date with their rent. But there is never any excuse for trashing a property.

“We had an application process which provided landlords with reference checks.

“It’s then up to the landlord to approve. You can’t stop false information getting through.

“I believe the Residency and Tenancy Act does need to be updated to protect landlords.”

Another landlord has come forward to say that there needs to be changes to ensure landlords are protected.

“I recently had one tenant who left owing  a lot of money,” the man, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

“Landlords don’t have access to any advocacy avenues.

“Often they’re not rich people; we still have mortgages and loan repayments.

“You have to go through the legal process to remove someone; that can take weeks and weeks.

“My one really bad experience has left me with over $10,000 worth of damage and clean up.

“I’ve had to get builders and cleaners to come in while tenants like that can just go and rent elsewhere.”

He believed that those who get rent assistance should have it paid straight into their rent.

“That one tenant would keep the rent assistance,” he said.

“That is fraud. It should go straight to the landlord.

“There needs to be state laws to protect landlords.”

But New England and Western Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service’s Katrina Webster said that in Broken Hill at least, things tended to be fairly even.

“You also get tenants having trouble with landlords,” she said.

“The law isn’t skewed against landlords, if an agreement is set down through the Residential Tenancy Act there are provisions for landlords.

“Landlords are also able to get insurance to cover any damages as well as getting advice from Fair Trading to take steps to end an agreement.

“Most tenants are reasonable people.”

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