Jody Lindbeck’s Mum’s the Word | OPINION, August 10, 2017

Ask anyone involved in the rental process – be they landlords, tenants or property managers – and they’ll tell you the system, for the most part ,works fairly well.

If you have a reasonable landlord and a decent tenant, the job of the property manager becomes much more straight forward. But throw in a spanner or two – Scrooge-ish landlord or bad tenant – and it’s going to make life a lot tougher.

There are a lot of rules embedded in law to protect both landlords and tenants, and rightly so, but every now and then it’s time for someone to blow the dust off the legislation and see if it’s still relevant.

Earlier this week my colleague Jeremy Frost spoke to the manager of a cleaning business about the damage that drug manufacture and usage can do to a property.

Dean Pavitt told The Daily Advertiser a property he owned in Lake Albert was left in a mess and littered with used syringes after his home was unsuspectingly let to a drug addict.

As Mr Pavitt pointed out, cleaning up after a house has been trashed by a drug user is a nightmare.

Real estate agents can quite easily find a good cleaner who can tidy up the run-of-the-mill filth left behind by an unruly tenant, but chemicals and biological hazards are a different ballgame.

“With drugs, like meth, for example, the chemical compounds can seep into things like clothes, furniture, walls and even door frames and can remain there for an extended period of time,” Mr Pavitt said.

“I’ve come home from cleaning jobs before where I’ve felt really sluggish and under the weather for a couple of days because the airborne chemicals can be absorbed into the skin.”

Property owners, under the Environmental Operations Act, are required to ensure their rental properties are free of these kinds of contaminants before a tenant moves in, Mr Pavitt said.

I guarantee when politicians drafted the legislation, they had no idea houses would one day be turned into illegal chemical manufacturing plants or trashed to accommodate a hydroponic cannabis set-up.

No-one is going to pretend that right now, here in Wagga, we have our own version of Breaking Bad being played out in the suburbs. But it is foolish to pretend our city hasn’t had issues with drugs in the past or isn’t going to in the future, and that’s a situation that is likely to be replicated across the country.

We hear about the ice scourge, and fairly frequently about police operations that interrupt the supply of chemical needed to manufacture drugs, but it’s also time to make sure that rules beyond standard “law and order” are also keeping up with the requirements.

It is a constant balancing act to protect the rights of both landlords and tenants, and property managers are always likely to remain the meat in the sandwich, but our politicians have to do their part.

In this case, their part is ensuring that legislation is reviewed often enough to ensure it’s still doing it’s job.

If tenants feel they are being left at the mercy of landlords and property managers, they should be able to call on legislative safeguards.

But if property managers and landlords are finding themselves hamstrung by outdated legislation, then it’s time to give the existing framework the heave-ho and come up with something much more pertinent.

Jody Lindbeck

jody.lindbeck@fairfaxmedia.com.au