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Ex property manager harassment! WT?

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by Schmoo, 31st Jul, 2016.

  1. Schmoo

    Schmoo Active Member

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    Hi all, I am new here so please be kind.
    Interesting in getting other landlords opinions.
    Scenario:
    - I have one residential IP in NSW.
    - I changed property managers this year due to an incompetent PM agency I stuck with, stupidly, for over 10 years and I finally got fed up.
    - The last PM authorised (by way of work order) a tradesperson to do some non urgent repairs, without communicating this with me at the time or obtaining my authority. I didn't receive a quote/nothing.
    - Fast forward, after being with the new PM well into the 7th month, I receive, out of the blue, an email & calls on my personal mobile directly from a tradesperson harassing me for payment of an invoice for "supposed" work done at my IP 7 months earlier!! Pay in 7 days or I'm taking you to fair trading, the email said. When I responded via email, that I knew nothing about this & had never heard of this tradie or his business before, had never received a quote from him etc, he told me my previous PM passed him all of my personal details, including my home address & he explained that my previous PM gave him the work order.
    - The previous PM then ignores all my calls (Because I am seeking an explanation) and sends me an email instead with the 'invoice' (which I had then viewed for the first time), telling me I have to pay and they have told the tradie to take me to the NSW civil and penalties tribunal (if this is what it's called?).
    - I responded to the PM expressing my concerns, namely, breaching my privacy and also disputing the "supposed" work as the time lapse of 7 months does not enable me to verify that the work was even completed, and lastly that I did not authorise this work. Previous PM responded threatening that the tradie has "every right to go to my property and remove the work done"???!!! Their exact words.
    So my question is: has any other landlord experienced this? A PM authorising work they didn't know about? A time lapse like this? What do you all suggest?
     
  2. Special order

    Special order Well-Known Member

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    There will be something in your contract which states unauthorised repairs up to a certain amount, refer to that
     
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  3. Schmoo

    Schmoo Active Member

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    Thanks special order. I'll have to find it.
    (Looking back, I find it odd that I was with that PM for over two months after the invoice date, was paid rent by direct deposit 4 times and gave them 30 days notice that I was changing to another PM, & they "finalised" everything via my last direct deposit).
     
  4. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    Have a read of the security of payments legislation in NSW for the construction industry. You have a fixed timeframe to dispute the invoice, lodge your notification of dispute asap if your time hasn't lapsed. They won't know what to do with it.
     
  5. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    Yes a pm can act in your behalf.
    In court a trades person can sue the pm office who authorised the work.

    The pm office can then sue you for reimbursement because the work was authorised as repairs or maintenance on your property.
     
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  6. Westminster

    Westminster Tigress at Tiger Developments Business Member

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    Surely that's only possible if there is an amount in the PM contract that allows this? For example my PM contract says my PM can spend up to $300 without getting permission and can also arrange emergency repairs as per the state legislation over that amount.
    The OP says it wasn't emergency repairs and the PM did not seek authorisation from him.
    @Schmoo was there an amount in your contract that the PM was allowed to spend without authorisation for non emergency repairs?
     
  7. Schmoo

    Schmoo Active Member

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    I've just checked the one and only "exclusive management agency agreement residential" I signed with the PM and under the "repairs and maintenance" section it says "the agent is authorised to arrange and pay for repairs and maintenance to be done in accordance with the principals obligations to repair (if any) or as otherwise instructed, or to engage skilled tradespersons to effect repairs and maintenance, provided that expenditure in excess of [they have inserted "REFER TO OWNER"] for any one item shall not be incurred without the prior approval of the principal except where it is the agents opinion that because of an emergency, repairs are necessary for the protection of the premises or the supply of essential services to the tenant".

    The "supposed" repairs were not an emergency and did not have to do with essential services.
     
    Last edited: 31st Jul, 2016
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  8. Westminster

    Westminster Tigress at Tiger Developments Business Member

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    Then I believe you are in the right @Schmoo and very poor form of them not to bring it up before you left, as it was 2-3mths when they should have paid the tradie directly as per normal procedures.
     
  9. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    Ok so then you have a recourse action to not pay the invoice.
     
  10. Schmoo

    Schmoo Active Member

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    I might just go back to previous PM and remind them of our agreement. They provided terrible service in many ways and I was so glad/relieved to have finally left their management. This unwelcome 'surprise' is causing me stress. Despite the low opinion I have of that PM, this is a whole new level of incompetence. It's ridiculous to put me in a position, asking me to pay an invoice for work that I cannot verify/assess the workmanship given its 7 months later, despite the agreement clause. Thanks for your time and to everyone for their replies -really appreciate it.
     
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  11. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    What was the work done and the cost? That won't change the answers given, but what sort of money and work are we talking here? Someone must have let him in to do the work (tenant or PM), so someone knows he did something. Doesn't change the fact that your PM has a lot to answer for.
     
  12. Ted Varrick

    Ted Varrick Well-Known Member

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    Schmoo. Relax. How much was the job for?

    Depending on this, either the tradie's contractual relationship was with the original PM or (if a lot cheaper, being bugger all) it should have been paid by them.

    If not, tell the tradie that they should be discussing this matter with the original PM, and if they want to go to Fair Trading, feel free. It will cost the tradie about about $81.

    It's just mediation, it's worth going, but if the bill is not worth your time pay it, if not decide if you want to go or not.

    In my case, it was whats known as a WOFTAM, a Waste Of Time And Money...

    And really, just a box tick on the way to Tribunal.
     
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  13. Jamie_

    Jamie_ Well-Known Member

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    Did the work actually get done? Was the price reasonable?
     
  14. Simon Moore

    Simon Moore Mortgage Broker - Melbourne Business Member

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    I believe Fair Trading NSW is responsible for these sort of complaints, if you want to kick up a fuss, probably more specifically about the breach of privacy, they would be the people to get in contact with.
     
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  15. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    The tradesman has done work on your behalf and hasn't been paid. His contract was with you the owner with the agent representing you. You might have to pay the tradie to avoid being sued for breach of contract and then you sue the agent for a breach of your contract with them and their breaching their fiduciary duties. The tradie doesn't care about your dispute with the agent.

    You should seek legal advice on this.

    But how much money are we talking about?
     
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  16. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    Tradies can sue property managers directly. There are lots of magistrates cases where this was done, irrespective of whether they have sent out a work order on behalf of a client.
     
  17. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    Yes as the agent is the agent (in the legal sense) of the landlord and they are the ones that contracted with the tradie (on behalf of the landlord). I would probably sue the landlord first though.
     
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  18. Schmoo

    Schmoo Active Member

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    Hi Terry, if you read my comment above where I refer & quote the "maintenance and repair" section of my contract with my previous PM, you will see that the PM had to get my authority for any repair, regardless of cost (unless it was an urgent/emergency repair). So it appears my previous PM has to pay the tradie. They engaged the tradie via work order without my authorisation breaching our contract/agreement , it's that simple.
     
  19. Schmoo

    Schmoo Active Member

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    The PM gave the tradie a work order without getting my authorisation (yes, the PM doesn't need my authority for emergency/urgent repairs but these weren't). I had signed a agreement/contract with the PM and the PM has written in the "maintenance and repairs" section that they will obtain my authorisation for all non urgent repairs, regardless of cost and they didn't do that. The PM has stuffed up.
     
  20. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    No it doesn't seem that way and it is not that simple.

    You are the one that benefited. The agent was acting as your agent when the contract with the tradie was entered into.