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Help me Decide a dispute: smoke alarms

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by Truly Exotic, 5th Mar, 2016.

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  1. Truly Exotic

    Truly Exotic Well-Known Member

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    ok, so im sitting here scratching my head thinking, what is going on?

    Long story short
    a few properties by one agent, generally happy with their service.
    problem in question is their smoke alarm maintenance service.
    I received one of those 'would you like to enrol in our smoke alarm maintenance service for $x per year' letters
    I reply no, all is good
    Year 2 I may or may not have received another one, (I dont recall)
    They charge me the fee, I complain, they refund it
    Year 3; same story again, however they are now refusing to refund based on the excuse of 'oh we have a legal resposnbilty of ensuring we have safe properties, we will refund it once we see a certificate of compliance, we are just covering our backs'

    now, money aside, I am very peeved that a service that I specifically said no to with no authroised signature is being charged based on some BS. Frankly its annoyed me to bits and i am considering moving my 4 properties away from them. Legally to enrol me in a service that I have specifccally said no to is appalling.

    Who is in the right here?

    and I believe (ill need to check) none of my other properties are enrolled
     
  2. D.T.

    D.T. Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    If you didn't sign up for it you shouldn't have to pay for it.

    However, if your house then burns down and the insurance company doesn't want to pay a claim because the smoke alarm didn't work - who would you turn to then?

    I always check that they're running at each inspection, but this doesn't guarantee that they work.
     
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  3. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    Yep. You are right.
     
  4. JDM

    JDM Well-Known Member

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    You are right in the sense the agent has no right to charge you for a service you have not agreed to.

    The agent is right to have issues if they have reason to believe the property does not comply with relevant smoke alarm legislation. In this case the agent still has no right to incur the expenses on your behalf, however they may choose not to manage your property unless you have the breach rectified and/or to report you to the relevant authorities. You would expect the agent to raise this with you rather than sending someone out at your expense unless your management agreement provides them with this authority.
     
  5. SeafordSunshine

    SeafordSunshine Well-Known Member

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  6. Chilliblue

    Chilliblue Well-Known Member

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    Your managing agreement clearly states what the agent may or may not charge without your consent.

    If unclear or not stated, there is the law that one cannot be automatically opted in and as you already have clearly stated your intentions of remaining opted out then they should respect your wishes.

    If you believe that the agreement does not permit the PM to opt into your services, then personally I would write the licensee of the practise and formally request that your wishes be followed and the costs incurred reimbursed within 7 days.

    Advise them that as this is the second occurrence and you will look at ending the agreement in the correct defined time frame if not rectified. Start looking for a new PM in the mean time.

    It is your property and your PM acts on your behalf not what is easiest for them

    The information above however, does not mitigate your responsibilities under your states act with regards to smoke alarms, however the PM has been lax in clearing their position with you.
     
    Last edited: 5th Mar, 2016
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  7. Anthony416

    Anthony416 Active Member

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    Whatever the outcome I would change PM. I could not work with people I could not trust.
     
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  8. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    It is a legal requirement to have a smoke alarm, it is not a legal requirement to subscribe to a smoke alarm service.

    If your smoke alarm breaks, you need to replace it. You don't need to be subscribed to a service to do this.
     
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  9. Hanison

    Hanison Well-Known Member

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    This old chestnut again.
    It's $99 a year per property and you have to do nothing.
    A fistful of dollars to take the management of a hazard away and placed into someone else's hands.
    No brainer imo.
     
  10. Chilliblue

    Chilliblue Well-Known Member

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    I don't think that is the point being raised here. The PM acted against the legal wishes of their client @Truly Exotic and that to me is an issue
     
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  11. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    @Hanison - agreed. Depending upon the state, the requirements vary. In NSW they only require testing and battery replacement at the commencement of a new tenancy.

    If the op has kept the same tenant for 3 years no obligation but has the unit life expired?
     
  12. Truly Exotic

    Truly Exotic Well-Known Member

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    this is my line of thought

    you cannot sign up anyone for a service like this without their permission,
    if you legally/morally require smoke alarms to be done then you must get them done at the start at a mutually agreed service/cost /arrangemet

    if both cannot agree, then you dont take them on.

    if the rules/morals require changes once the service is done, same again, either agree or refuse to further manage.

    its no different for a bank to signing someone up for life insurance without their consent to their preferred supplier as part of a home loan stating that its is their requirement.

    the lack of legal commonsense has me astounded

    here is the latest email response , I think I will talk to the principal on monday, (and the compliance letters I have not received yet)

    --------------------------------------
    dear Truly exotc
    I received a message today regarding the refund of Smoke Alarm service.



    We spoke about this a couple of times and I have told you I am most happy to refund the fee, but we need evidence that the smoke alarms have been serviced and tested.



    I have asked for copies of the reports, and I have asked for the contact details of the person/company that you use, as well as the details of your plumber so that we can get copies of the water compliancy certificates.



    It is a legal requirement that copies of the water compliancy are provided to the tenants with their leases otherwise we cannot charge them 100% water.



    We are taking a risk in already doing this for you, but if they question us, we MUST provide a copy of the certificate or you will have to refund all the money back to them. This has already happened once in this office to an owner who didn't provide, and then couldn't provide the certificate.



    I have attached a compliance form for you to complete in relation to your smoke alarms. Once you complete and send this back to me, I will release the payment of $66 to you.



    Please note, all lease renewals and changes of tenants MUST have the smoke alarms serviced, or at least once every 12 months if you have long term tenants.



    Each time we send you the lease renewal instructions, you will need to arrange to attend the properties to carry out the smoke alarm compliance or there will be a breach of the Residential Tenancies Act.



    If you have a preferred contractor, we can make the neccessary arrangements for you, without you having to worry about it.



    Please note, I have heard of a number of insurance claims being denied due to lack of evidence of smoke alarm servicing, and I would hate for something to happen to you. Please remember


    Please be understanding Michael, this is all for your protection, I am not trying to be diffcult, but we need to cover ourselves as much as we need to do our best to protect you.
     
  13. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

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    Is this even true? I didn't think it was - it certainly isn't in all states.

    This smoke alarm maintenance propaganda seems to come up all the time. I suspect it comes from some marketing scheme being pushed at PM CPD training or something like that.
     
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  14. D.T.

    D.T. Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    Yup - I went to a full day conference in Feb and smoke alarm people were there as one of the sponsors of the event. I didn't even go say hello to them, I think it's a scam.

    What will end up happening though, is they get in the ears of the insurers and convince the insurers that it's necessary to maintain cover. That'll suck.
     
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  15. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    The agent is legally able to enter into contracts on your behalf as you have appointed them your agent in the legal sense. This is similar to appointing an attorney.

    It is just a question of whether your agreement allows them to contract for smoke alarms on your behalf. And if so you had already instructed them not to accept the offer from the smoke alarm company so have they breached your agreement with them?

    I would write then a letter pointing this out.
     
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  16. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    In this litigious age it's called "risk management".

    If you self-manage you'd plead ignorance (& lose). Your PM has raised water compliance as well - which you choose to ignore.

    Time to self manage and self-insure.
     
  17. Bullion Baron

    Bullion Baron Well-Known Member

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    Seems like a pretty simple solution... just ask them to highlight the relevant section of the act which will be breached with non compliance.

    If it is in the act then I don't think it's reasonable for you to expect them to assist you in breaching the act because you're too cheap to pay for the service... if it's not in the act then they have no grounds to try and force the fee on you.
     
  18. Truly Exotic

    Truly Exotic Well-Known Member

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    Being cheap has nothing to do with it. So would the situation be different if the service was 500 per year?

    If its in the act then ill be first to apologise and pay

    However with none of my other qld properties force enrolled in it, i doubt its legislation.

    As for terryw's comment, legal representation doesnt mean they can sign you up for anything they feel like. Maybe a mobile phone contract? What about a painter every 6 months to change the exterior coloue becauae the agent prefers pink over white?
     
  19. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    Have a read of your contract with the agent and see what you have agreed to. Probably property related matters only.
     
  20. Bullion Baron

    Bullion Baron Well-Known Member

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    So why not just reply to that above email asking for the relevant legislation? If he can't provide it, then ask for the refund and move your properties away from what is either an incompetent property manager or a liar.