First National Real Estate has called upon landlords to exercise rental pricing restraint and compassion as isolated signs of profiteering emerge from the recovery efforts in Queensland.
‘There have been instances where landlords with vacant homes have contacted our members, asking to have their rental asking price substantially increased to capitalize on the sudden demand for properties needed by evacuees’ said First National’s Chief Executive Ray Ellis.
‘Fortunately, such incidents have been few in number and have been balanced by property owners who have contacted the network with offers of assistance. One such landlord contacted a Brisbane First National member and indicated that he was willing to furnish his rental property down to the last teaspoon if a flood evacuee needed temporary, furnished accommodation.
‘He even offered to forgo the usual minimum six month lease to help out’ said Mr Ellis.
Real estate agents are struggling to cope with the resources needed to urgently re-house tenants in rental properties that have been either damaged or ruined. In some cases, the agents themselves have lost everything in their homes and their businesses have been destroyed, but they are fighting back, determined to get their businesses operational to deal with their responsibilities to both tenants and landlords.
‘Landlords are understandably distressed about what has happened to their properties and there were major challenges earlier this week, just getting to their properties to find out what had happened. Equally, tenants are distressed about how much they are allowed to do in order to clean up their homes, which are effectively the landlord’s property’ said Mr Ellis.
‘Nobody wants to rip up carpets they don’t own but most of our tenants didn’t want to sit on their hands either. Some of our tenants in flood damaged properties couldn’t reach their First National agent to ask questions so we immediately set up an Emergency Flood Crisis Contact number and began coordinating support from our national administration centre in Melbourne.
‘Our staff took calls from over 100 tenants last weekend alone’.
First National Real Estate is a cooperative and its member agents have pooled their resources to help the worst affected offices in the network respond to the crisis.
‘Our agents and property managers have stood shoulder to shoulder through this event’ said Mr Ellis.
‘First National launched an internal National Volunteers Register to pool its property management expertise and we’ve had offers of support from across the country.
‘Property managers and staff located around Brisbane in particular have flocked to our Oxley and Toowong offices to help clean up, establishing temporary facilities under tents, and have set about visiting our rental properties to assist tenants who need to be re-housed, assessing the degree of damage, reporting to landlords, and starting the process of repairs and restoration’.
First National says that the process of recovery will be lengthy. Accessing electricians, plumbers, roofers and pool cleaners will be difficult while demand overwhelms supply.
The network’s community fund-raising arm, First National Foundation, set up an ‘Australian Floods Appeal’ two weeks ago and all funds raised go to Australian Red Cross Emergency Services.
‘Our agents have been fund-raising nationally and we’ve managed to raise in excess of $30,000 in support of Red Cross Emergency Services so far’ said Mr Ellis.
Members of the public wishing to donate can visit www.firstnational.com.au and follow the links to the donations page.