Property managers are the air hostesses of the land. Regardless of how they treat you, whether its the knowing nod and the extra shot at 6am on your red eye, or the uncalled for rudeness and treating you like a toddler for no reason, you know they hold all the power. At a click of their fingers they can make your life hell. But unlike air hostesses, if property managers decide they don’t like you, it becomes impossible for you to ever to rent any where else ever again. Once you’re black listed, you’d be lucky to pack it in and move back in with your parents.
In Sydney, the property market is insane. To even get a house you have to be earning some serious cash, have amazing references, a spotless transaction record, be a card carrying member of the Liberal party, make virgin sacrifices at each full moon and have a working knowledge of the casting couch if you want to get anywhere.
The gatekeepers between domestic bliss and your transient twenty-something ass are the property managers. More often than not, these people are trying to work their way up the real estate ladder to some kind of high rolling, no money no problems lifestyle with investment properties coming out of their eyes and multiple Lexus’ clogging up their driveways.
A former property manager of mine was on this trajectory. In the same way that many a Hollywood wannabe has found themselves at a truck-stop strip joint spinning the pole for tenners, the man had the kind of eyes where you could see the lonely solitary cog, slowly rotating behind them. A wet-fish handshake, an awkward ask of how things were and next thing you knew, he was shoulder charging past you and tearing into your home.
We had mould so fierce in one of our cupboards you could smell it from outside the front door. In every spot in this house where the skirting boards didn’t meet the floor, slugs made their way out of our walls (where they presumably keep their delightful little hidey holes). In the bathroom, cockroaches nested inside the bath, and inside the completely bizarre wooden panelling that adorned our kitchen. Once, we had what we aptly named the cockroach apocalypse, which was a whole bundle of fun. Even after the exterminators came and went we found ourselves going through a can a week of bug spray.
On all of these issues our property manager never seemed to remember who we were, which house we lived in or who was currently living there. Then the cherry on top, after six months of living there, they upped our rent to over 800 dollars a week for a three bedroom, old as fuck terrace in inner-west Sydney.
And through all of this, you have to be polite, you have to be understanding. You have to keep your head down and hope that you haven’t offended them. So help you. That rental reference is worth its weight in gold. And if at their secret conclave of property managers, held in the darkest cavern, complete with robes and masks, your name comes up there, your dreams of a two-bedroom apartment with your girlfriend will slip through your fingers quicker than a condom on a one night stand.
I have never been happier to have someone out of my life, including ex-girlfriends, high school enemies and former politicians, than I was the day I realised I would never have to interact with that property manager again. I’m not saying that your choice of profession makes you a bad person. I am saying that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
In no case is this more true than totalitarian despots and property managers. And really, the only difference is the size of land they control.
Words by Patrick Cullen. Photo by Lisa.
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