Monday, March 30, 2009

#120: Baby, You’re A Rich Man

I continually ask myself, what is it with people who seek rental properties that are way out of their league? It doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, but then that might be due to me having a small degree of common sense. In the past few months I’ve seen people who commonly present with the same problems – they pay too much rent and refuse to acknowledge it, to the point of eviction. And therein lies the biggest problem of them all, because once you’re evicted then you’re more than likely to be added to a blacklist, where your name will remain forever (or until it’s removed). Each land agent and most landlords check the blacklist every time they receive an application for a rental property and if you’re on that list then you might as well not bother. The agent or landlord will always, and I mean ALWAYS, plump for the cleanskin of a tenant over damaged goods, no matter how good your reason is.

And allow me to digress for a short second. We all know about the tenant blacklist but I can’t help but wonder when a renters/landlord blacklist will begin to appear. I know of quite a few land agents and landlords in this state alone that I’d not touch with a pole, nor would I recommend others to (I’d name names but my insanity isn’t that complete – yet). For example there’s one landlord who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to walk into any property he owns whenever he feels like it. He’s also got a good reputation for touching up female tenants and has been known to take a few people with baseball bats around to collect any rents owing. I’ve yet to see him actually release a bond without RTT intervention and the properties he owns are as run down as can be. You’d be better off living in a dumpster. He’s not gotten any mellower in his dotage though and has developed a new tendency of visiting properties that he sold years ago and demanding rental payments with menaces. The result has seen a few restraining orders put in place, but to this guy such things are challenges, not binding legal documents. And then there’s the semi-large land agent that operates a lot of rental properties. Run by a husband and wife team, this lot like to increase rents but don’t bother telling the owners, nor do they pass on the additional monies collected. They’ve got a great habit of forcing evictions for no reason and also hold onto bonds until ordered otherwise by the RTT. What they do though is clever – they’ll threaten the tenant with blacklisting if they dispute the bond claim. The tenants, usually young and worried and bullied thus they don’t dispute the bond claims, lose all the money and end up on the blacklist regardless. That’s democracy in action.

So get a renters/landlords blacklist up and going and let me know – I’d be happy to see how it all works and you never know who’d contribute. The irony is, if you did such a list, the Real Estate Association would be up in arms, yet they allow landlords and real estate agents to list tenants without any form of recourse or resolution. Piss the landlord off and on the list you go. But, as I said, I digress….

We’ve talked about how to locate and secure private rental more than once on this site but one thing needs to be reinforced – location, location, location. Sure, everyone wants to live in the city, by the beach or in the more affluent suburbs, but the stark reality is that if you’re on a government benefit you’ll be more likely to be living in a suburb surrounded more with effluence than affluence. Sorry, that’s just the facts and nothing but the facts, m’am. Still it doesn’t stop people coming in with leases signed indicating that the tenant will be paying more than their total fortnightly payments in rent alone. And, amazingly enough, the tenants refuse to see this as a problem. I recently had one tenant in who was paying $280 per week in rent. No biggie, I pay more than that, but the tenant was earning a pension of approximately $550 per fortnight, meaning that he was $10 in arrears every fortnight. The tenant didn’t see this as being a problem though, despite being six weeks in arrears. I did advise about the basics, you know, simple things like food, electricity, gas…small things. In one ear and out the other. In the end I refused any assistance of arrears payments and assessed for assistance more in line with the payments the tenant was receiving. You’d have thought I’d questioned the tenant’s heritage, such as the anger displayed. Throughout it all I never got an answer to the simple question: “So, where exactly do you find the extra $10 per fortnight?”

Sadly, again as we’ve seen, rents increase out of proportion to the cost of living index. That's a simple fact of life and nothing, until proper industry regulation is effected, will ever change that. Landlords and real estate agents know that they can charge what the market will bear, and this often means charging amounts above market value rents (the argument being that any rent that is paid actually is the market value rent). And let’s not mention rental auctions, an insidious practice that has, officially, been outlawed, but, unofficially, still happens on many scales in the majority of rental offers. There is a way around all of this though and it’s a very simple one: only pursue rental properties in areas where you can afford to pay the rent.

Having said that I am aware that it’s not always the easiest thing to achieve. Everyone wants to live close to the city for a number of reasons. These can include the most simple of reasons – people want to be close to the hub. In the same way that all roads in Italy lead to Rome, all roads leading out of the city centre lead to somewhere else. It’s easier to start a journey using the centre of the city as your starting point than it is to have to travel to a location, change modes of transport and so forth until you finally get to where you need to be. Some call this behaviour being lazy, some call it convenience. Call it what you want, it’s a very real, and in some cases valid, reason. Being close to a linked in support network is also a valid reason, but one that often doesn’t hold water. There are a lot of support agencies and networks within a city centre, but in this day and age many of those agencies have either outreach services or branches in the suburbs. It’s a simple choice to move your case file from one branch to another, and quite frequently the agency in question will only be too happy to move a file from one overloaded central office to a more manageable office. In a lot of cases this can clearly benefit a client as, in a smaller region, their case can receive a bit of extra attention. Win-win all round really.

Some refuse to move outwards due to a certain snobbery. If you’re looking for a rental property under $150 and you find a dog box that frankly you’d even allow your dog to enter then don’t whinge to me. You’ll be getting exactly what you’ll be paying for, so shut yer yap. However, move about 20 kilometres away from the city centre and that same $150 will more than likely net you a very decent one bedroom or a very reasonable (condition wise) two bedroom unit. Live close to the city and the same money will result in a smaller place with lesser quality overall. That’s just logic, but try explaining logic to a group of people who think that Edward DeBono is the real name of the singer in U2. People keep seeking what I refer to as the Golden Peanut. That one peanut in the packet that is so magical it makes the rest of the packet worthwhile, even if the other peanuts taste like processed crap. People will attempt to hunt down that elusive two bedroom, twin story executive town house complete with spa for under $200 a week in rent. It ain’t gonna happen. That place does exist, but if you’re not willing to pay around $400+ plus per week then you’re not going to get anywhere near it. It’s really that simple and anyone who tells you otherwise is simply full of shit. And that’s the truth.

So when you figure out what you can afford in rent, and that assessment is generally easy to do – you’re looking at anywhere between 50 to 60% of your gross weekly income (that’s pre-tax kiddies, or all the money you either, or are supposed to, receive from the dole office) – then start hunting. Why 50 to 60%? Because that’s affordable. Anything over that amount is just not sustainable no matter who you are or what creative accounting you think you can do, unless you're sharing and/or have a second income to draw from (but if you did have a second income then you'd be well under that 50-60% rule wouldn't you?). It just won’t work. Anything under those amounts are bonus time. If you earn around $275 per week on dole payments and find something to rent for around $120 then consider yourself lucky. It means you might be able to afford to keep smoking, both legal and/or illegally. Take your pick.

The trick to all of this is a simple one. The lower you are on the income table the further away from the city centre you’ll have to live. The higher you are on the income table the closer you get to live to the city. There’s no simpler way to explain things than that. Live within your means and do what you need to do and play the cards you’re dealt. If you want to live better than either get a job, earn more money or rob a bank – anything – but you can’t live well if every cent you’re paying goes into rental. If nothing else you’ll either freeze to death in the winter due a lack of heating or you’ll starve to death after you’ve eaten the place clean of food, insects, vermin and pets. Live within your means and you’ll live well.


Anonymous said...

When I went through a period of madness and drove a community bus, I was assailed by the stench of a regular who was a bag lady. Despite having my name on a sign in front of her face she'd call me "Driver!", as in "Driver! Pull over here and wait for me!".

I was soon informed by the other victims that she was a landlady who seemed to think the bus was personal transport to her rental properties, and the "wait for me" was so she could perform inspections! Additionally, the foul smelling bags were full of old and nasty vegetable she'd get out of the dumpsters at the shopping center terminus, which were apparently intended for her tenants, although I suspect she'd end up eating them herself. Council banned the carrying of more than one bag on the bus (with her in mind), but couldn't ban vile woman herself. Pity. ~Martin

David Drury said...

I've always thought that Edward DeBono was one of the best singers, and his social campaigns were a great contribution to the world too.

Well it'd be really easy to create a Landlord blacklist on the Internet, I didn't find one on a quick google search though.

Anonymous said...

"but the tenant was earning a pension of approximately $550 per fortnight"
I like the way you used the word earning. lol! What were they doing for the $?
My understanding is a pension is $ for not earning anything. They should call it a life fail payment.

The Regional Support Clerk said...

Generally if someone is on a Disability Support Pension they're there for a damn good reason. The last government tightened the loopholes and made a DSP harder to obtain - gone are the days where you could get one with a doctors certificate. In this case the tenant who presented with the DSP had a very, very good explanation and reason as to why they were getting the DSP.

Now, as for people who've spent the bulk of their lives on NewStart, well that's a different kettle of fish.

Anonymous said...

Good point. The only people I know on DSP also do cash jobs so I guess our experience's are a little different. As for old age pensions, well It's hard for me to feel sorry for someone who grew up in the golden ages of Australia with plenty of jobs, low cost housing etc. At the end of the day I feel all they had to do was buy a couple of investment properties and they wouldn’t need the pension now. And when you consider you could probably buy 3 houses for the same price (comparative to average income at the time) as one today then its even harder.
The gen X's and Y's are looking at a future where it will be imposable to buy a property, no pension when we are old and luckily enough we have to save for our retirement during what many are predicting is going to be the worst economic climate ever. The facts are if you are in your 20's or later and you have not started putting $ away for you retirement then you are crazy or ignorant. As it stands at the moment there are 11 people working to every 1 on a pension. When I get to retirement age (I'm 29) unless the birth rate climbs significantly there will be 4 people working to every 1 not. There is no way the government can afford this nor will the 4 people working let a government tax 75%(the amount needed to afford to keep the country afloat)of their income. The worst bit is anyone who has a brain wouldn't think of having children in this economic climate. The only people who would think it’s a good idea are people who are on life fail payments as they don’t have jobs they can loose. The problem with this is they are usually 3rd-4th generation unemployed people having the kids. Do you think they will be the ones propping up the country when it falls to crap. I don’t. And let me just say also the baby bonus is the dumbest thing I had seen till the latest couple of government hand outs. The people who think $5k is a lot of cash flat out should not be having children. And the families who earn more than $75k cant get it????? They are the ones that we should be encouraging to have children! If you ask me we are breeding a problem that we can ill afford. I dont fall into the over $75 income just in case anyone was wondering, not even close.
People on NewStart should be put to work at the minimum wage rate till they earn what they get for their pension. They should have to be somewhere at 9am like the rest of us and pick up rubbish in the parklands or something for 3 hours. I figure if they have to get up and go to work anyway then they may try and find a real job. If they are still unemployed after a year they should be put in the Army, Navy or Air force for a 3 year stint providing they are able bodied. This would help them to become motivated members of society.

Pilgrim. said...

No wonder you choose to be "Anonymous"

ex dole said...

Hey Anon

People on NewStart should be put to work at the minimum wage rate till they earn what they get for their pension. They should have to be somewhere at 9am like the rest of us and pick up rubbish in the parklands or something for 3 hours.

This works out to being 15 hours a week. The same amount as regular WfD.

Anonymous said...

That is correct ex dole. Making my point that you should have to work for the dole. It should not be a choice. If you want the $$$ you need to earn it.

ex dole said...

So why suggest something that has already been in effect for the better part of a decade?

This is the whole crux of Mutual Obligation and has been so for the better part of a decade.

Frankly if we were to take your line of logic to it's conclusion we can get rid of WfD-FT. Who's going to do 25 hours a week to take home the same pay if they had only done 15?

Anonymous said...

Because it hasn’t been in effect. IT'S A CHOICE. It should be COMPULSORY!
I don’t know who would work for 25 hours. What I do know is I would feel better knowing everyone was doing something to earn the $ I pay them rather than some people working 25 hours and most doing nothing.
I don’t know why everyone is upset? I understand I can rub people up the wrong way with my life fail payment comment. Sorry about that but the economy is in ruin and the country has not got the funds to dig itself out. In fact its making things worse with the tax payer funded hand outs.
I merely suggested there are a lot of people not doing anything who are getting given money from the government.
At the end of the day we are screwed if we don’t start utilising recourses like people on the dole to do productive things in the community and the likely hood is we are screwed anyway. It's not hard to see where we are financially as a country.
I like the idea that if I loose my job there will be the government there to help me. I am happy to work for my dole if the need arises. But with the GFC and baby-boomer immanent retirement and the unemployment rising and the aging population crisis I don’t think the government can keep paying the dole to so many unless they are doing something for it. Its not a hard equation to comprehend. There wont be enough people working for the government to tax to pay the people on pensions. I don’t know how much simpler I can make it. And we are making the problem worse.
We should stop encouraging people who don’t work to breed and encourage the people who do to have children. It’s the can't feed them, don’t breed them thing. Again, not a hard concept to grasp.

ex dole said...

Anon, MO is compulsory. WfD is the default options so in a defacto way it is compulsory.

(For the record I was on the dole queue long enough to have few belts of dinging a hole and filling it back because the CWC didn't buy any plants to put in...)

MO also includes Defense force reserve service (and that has a nice bit tax free pay packet on-top-of) Volunteer work which is not quite 2/3rds of WfD hours, Lit and Num training.

Every year at "anniversary" when you first signed on the CL mainframe runs a query to see if you have completed MO and if not-straight into WfD.

On the clock for 2 years? Now it's WfD FT. 25 hours a week for 10 months.

Scrap the baby bonus is something I agree with-it encourages the wrong people to prop up our falling birth rate.

Rest very assured anon-the "good ole days" of the 80's style of dropping in your form and going surfing are well and truly over.

We are already down to 4 tax payers for each pension, just wait till the bulk of the no super gen x'ers start living till their 90+

Anonymous said...

You get a year of CL before you have to do anything for it? Not the definition of compulsory I had in mind. My suggestion was compulsory WFD. The moment you sign up for CL you work for it. It will still give you plenty of time to look for another job as most people find time to look for jobs wile in a full time one. My suggestion about the Defence force was if you have not found a job in a year that too should be made compulsory (full time service for 3 years). I can tell you I was on the dole for 6 months (the most embarrassing thing I have ever had to do) a couple of years ago and I did nothing for it. I think my motivation to find a job would have been a lot higher if I was working anyway.

ex dole said...

You get a year of CL before you have to do anything for it?Nope-6 months in which you will first do intensive jobserch (the diary) and JST.

Then you hit MO.

Every year on the clock you will do 6 months MO.

My suggestion was compulsory WFD. The moment you sign up for CL you work for it.Thanks to the usual CL bungling, that's actually happened to quite a lot of participants.

My suggestion about the Defence force was if you have not found a job in a year that too should be made compulsory (full time service for 3 years).Then you would have loved to have been on WTD-FT. Eligible after 2 years (every year on the clock, you spend 6 months in MO) you will complete 1100 hours in 10 months.

(25 hours a week instead of a fortnight-your job search requirements are also reduced.)

I can tell you I was on the dole for 6 months (the most embarrassing thing I have ever had to do) a couple of years ago and I did nothing for it.Oh it would be more than a few years ago-APM (Active participation Model) went live in March 2003. APM meant and still means fortnightly contact with a JNM who will incompetently manage your case in less than 10 minutes a fortnight.

The only exception to this is job seekers marked JSSO-Job Search Support Only. These are the one the JNM don't wan't as they can't get outcome payments for them...

Miss Shopalot said...

Life fail payment LOL - so true!!! Anonymous #2 for PM I reckon. Timefor the government to tuffen up and stop handing out my tax dollars to lazy dole bludgers, druggies, immigrants who comehere for a better life and promptly go on benefits and teenage mothers.