For anyone who is in the process of renting a property in Canberra and are looking at properties advertised by PRDnationwide I'd advise a little caution prior to signing the contract and finalising the deal.
In around November 2012 I started looking for a new place to rent so naturally turned to the relevant sources to find an appropriate place to live. On the face of it, all the property management companies look the same. Young, smartly dressed, bright eyed individuals filling our heads with imagery of wondrous homes that would be a joy to live in. With each viewing and each separate company the property managers followed the same format:
- Any problems would be fixed prior to moving in (chips/cracks/stains);
- There are numerous other people in queue so I had better move fast;
- The agent has had nothing but good reports from everyone else in the area.
Combine that with the feelings of inadequacy bestowed upon us by the property manager whilst talking to us and you have yourself the recipe for a property manager! In my head I'd tell myself that they were no different to I but for some reason most of PRD's property managers of the time appeared to think themselves on a higher echelon than the average human being.
Whilst moving in, my housemates and I learned a little more about the history of the property, including but not limited to:
- Previous tenants (Canberra Raiders) trashing the place;
- Other tenants skipping rent and fleeing the ACT;
- This was meant to be an investment property followed by a retirement home for the landlord;
- The landlord wanted no groups - something I was able to get past with a little talking
Since we were conscientious tenants all the paperwork was filled in and supplied to the property management company; PRD.
For the most part, I had an enjoyable tenancy although a few things struck me as odd about the way PRD operated for us. It was my understanding that a property manager was the point of contact between the tenant and the agent. Alas, we experienced five different managers over the tenancy. Couple this with a lack of communication between them and that's five times things have to be re-explained. A number of repairs and general tasks promised upon entering the tenancy were not completed after the year mark and repairs completed were done by the landlord after direct communication with us.
A key to the mailbox was not provided for a number of weeks and with that the only remedy was a phone call to the PRD Canberra CEO's mobile.
The move out procedure was fairly organised from our end. The place was cleaned, carpets steamed and inspected. PRD on the other hand, didn't provide us with much help or information without heavy prompting and I'm not they ever knew the exact dates of departure.
After being verbally informed we would receive 100% of the bond back after our final inspection, we considered that the end of an unpleasant chapter in renting history. However, as I came to realise, it's really important to get written confirmation as we were then sent an invoice for $2590 (coincidentally $10 short of the full bond amount). This was not acceptable for my co-tenants and I which caused us to take the matter to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal in order to resolve the matter. I would strongly advise all tenants in similar positions to consider this a highly viable option. It turns out that rental law in this country, and the ACT is extremely favourable towards tenants, provided there is reasonable evidence to back up claims.
After providing a number of emails and documents curated during the course of the lease, the majority of the issues were turned over to PRD to deal with. Whilst I refuse to be walked over by unfair and underhand practices and I feel my co-tenants were of a similar temperament, it worried us that others could be taken advantage of in a similar manner. In short, if you're a tenant and it looks like you're stumbling into a similar situation as that I've described, it's free to seek legal advice.
If you're an incredibly proactive person who doesn't mind repeated follow-up phone calls to check things are being done then you'll do fine. If unreplied emails are your thing, then rent with PRD. If you like long walks to Kingston in order to speak with them in person then you've got the right company. If. on the other hand, you like efficiency and not being taken for a ride; PRD is not the right company for you.
Similarly, prospective landlords tempted by PRD as a management company should also think twice before signing up. My understanding of the matter is that PRD is as lacklustre an agent for landlords as it is for tenants.
So, in conclusion, PRD suck and I'll never use their services again. I look forward to either comments refuting my claims or a concerted effort from the company to not suck in future.