Is It in Writing?
Communication is the key!
I don’t think I said that. That’s not what I said. You didn’t tell me that.
These are things you never want to hear when managing a property. These phrases can be the start of some difficult situations and don’t often end well. Communication is something that we all do every day. We are talking to people, text messaging, emailing, Facebook posting and instagramming. For most people talking on the phone is the most effective form of communication but what happens when what you say and what the other person hears are two different things?
There are several tips for effective communication that I have learnt over the years. One of the most effective is the speak and repeat style. This involves having the conversation and then then summarising it at the end such as … “That sounds great – so what we have decided is that you will take care of the lawn mowing at the property, but I’ll get the hedges and trees trimmed every few months – is this right?”
This is the best verbal way to ensure someone else is on the same page as you during the conversation, however this is still not the most ideal, consider this scenario. If in 2 months’ time you call the tenant to say – “Hey, the lawns are fairly long, what’s happening?” The tenant states that “No you said you were doing it when you do the hedges” and so the argument begins.
It may seem minor and very petty, but a small situation like this can escalate into a tit-for-tat style argument where the tenant feels like they are being bullied (even if they are not correct) and the owner feels taken advantage of.
In the property management industry we have a saying – “if it’s not in writing – it didn’t happen”.
Now this might not be the fairest statement, but ultimately, during disputes negotiations or mediation, the person with the most accurate details wins, especially if it ends up at QCAT. It’s great to have a conversation, but this needs to be followed up with an email – confirming the agreement and with a read receipt on the email. Better still, updating the terms and conditions in the general tenancy agreement and have all parties sign means that there is no grey areas.