Tenants skip out on rental responsibilities
PROPERTY valuer Julie Owbridge knows a thing or two about being a landlord.
The Gladstone local has rented out properties here for more than 10 years, and says tenants in the region are generally well-behaved.
"Gladstone people as a whole are usually pretty good," she said.
"I've had younger people and older people.
"One tenant has been living in a place of mine for years ... he's had cheap rent but he didn't go anywhere and my house got looked after."
So when a tenant left her with three skips full of rubbish, as one did earlier this year, she felt like it could drag the whole town's reputation down.
"It's not the worst that's happened, but it's one of the worst," Julie said.
"There's been about $8000 worth of damage.
"(The tenant) stopped paying rent in January, so I lost rent, and now I can only claim (insurance) for wilful damage, I can't claim for the clean-up and the filth that's been left.
"Myself and my partner had to clean it ourselves."
Julie said the rubbish left on the property included nappies in the backyard, drums of oil, a roll-bar from a ute and a set of amber lights that would normally sit on a wide-load truck.
Damage to the inside of the house included broken flyscreens and doors, a broken stove handle, a puncture to the top of the hot water system, and ruined carpets.
"It was an old house and it's ready to be renovated, but why would you renovate it for people like that who are going to trash it regardless," she said.
Julie said she had since switched rental agents to a well-known chain and moved to ensure property inspections would be conducted every three months - the minimum possible by law.
"It's very difficult at the moment because rental managers can be young and inexperienced... a couple have said to me it's difficult to work out which (tenants) are drug users and which aren't," she said.
"And even then - if they're drug users but they're looking after the property it's no problem."
The depressed Gladstone real estate market has also made it more difficult for landlords to avoid damage to their properties, according to Julie, because the size of the average bond (usually four weeks of rent) has shrunk.
"When rents are this low you may as well not have a bond," she said.
"When bond is up around $1000 you have a good buffer but when people are paying $120 a week they just stop paying rent and it's months before you get it back."
Julie said landlords could work with real estate agents to ensure entry and exit reports were being done properly and the property was being adequately inspected.
"A good agent will hound you more on maintenance as well, so it goes both ways," she said.
"You can also go and visit the neighbours if you're a local - they can tell if you if the place is starting to look a bit tatty and then you can talk to your agent."