Property manager slow on rent follow-up

Question from Nitin updated on 1st June 2012:

My tenant has been slack in paying rent and has fallen behind by at least six months. The statements from the property managers are not very clear. The question is can I sue the property manager for being negligent in collecting rent as well as not being proactive in letting me know how far the rent arrears are? It's only after a bit of coaxing that they finally gave me the figures.

Our expert Juliet Robinson responded:

You haven’t said anything about your agreement with your property manager. That agreement should set out your property manager’s responsibilities, powers and duties, pretty much like a job specification. Whether a property manager is negligent in collecting rent depends on the facts in each situation. What does your agreement require the property manager to do? How much delegated authority does he/she have? What communication has occurred between you during the period of arrears build-up (i.e. have you been reachable)? What efforts has the property manager made to collect the arrears? The answers to these questions may tell you whether the property manager has fulfilled his/her contractual duties adequately. Have you asked the property manager for an explanation? If you want to make a claim against the property manager you need to be pretty clear about what loss the property manager has actually caused you. You need to recognise that the tenant (not the property manager) is responsible for the rent and you have the Tenancy Tribunal process available to recover rent arrears from the tenant. Suing the property manager should not be taken as a quick way of claiming rent arrears. Such a claim must be related to actual losses arising from the property manager’s actions (or inaction).

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