Domestic Violence & Property Management

Domestic Violence & Property Management

By Emma Newell on Mar 01 2017

Watching the news and listening to yet another woman being killed at the hand of her most trusted makes me reflect on our position as a property manager when we sense that something is wrong.   Domestic violence is alive and well in our community and could be as close as your neighbour.  In property management we can be caught in the middle. 

Recently we had a fiery tenant demanding we supply him keys to his house that he leased with his partner.  Two weeks prior we had been informed by the partner that her boyfriend was no longer living at the residence and with the lease being up in a couple of weeks wanted to give notice to vacate.  A few days later new keys were dropped in to the office and she confided in our property manager that she had changed the locks because her boyfriend had become quite threatening and she was afraid for her safety.  We also knew that she was in the process of applying for an AVO against him.  They both had been great tenants so a few days later when he came into the office complaining because he couldn’t get access to the home that he leased, we were put in a very sensitive position.  Do we give him keys that he is legally entitled to? Realising we weren’t going to be compliant, he quickly showed his temper and stormed out of the office threatening to not only smash his way in but blow up his partner’s car that was parked in the driveway.
Majority of our female tenants who abscond without notice are usually running for fear of their life.  Usually the first signs are that they fall behind in their rent so we have more usually been in contact with them.  With their lives in such a turmoil you become a witness to their family issues and it is really difficult not to get involved.  Despite our efforts to put them in touch with family services, in most cases they flee in the middle of the night, usually leaving most of their belongings behind and a massive clean up.  The landlord is left with rent owed, a house full of belongings that are of little or no value and a costly clean up before the property can be leased again.  The only item that can be covered by insurance is the rent and the tenant is in hiding not being in a position to look after themselves little own offer to pay off their debt to the landlord.  It is a lose, lose situation as the landlord suffers financially and the tenant ends up on TICA. 
Sitting back watching a movie last Saturday night at 9.30 pm I received a phone call from an irate father who was accusing our office for supplying information about his daughter to her (apparently)  violent ex partner.  I am not sure what he expected me to do at 9.30 at night possibly just vent his anger and abuse me for his daughter’s situation but when I tried to help and offered to find out on Monday he continued his verbal abuse and hung up.  Did our office breach Privacy laws – No, did the father care – No, did the daughter get approved for a house through us?  This is when you realise that domestic violence is a vicious circle and a great concern to our whole community.  I know as property managers we have a big role to play and it would be unprofessional of us to ignore these situations.   At the end of the day we are here to help find better solutions for all concerned and the tenant’s safety is paramount.