Business

Landlords left in the lurch over property management

Tyson Lowe and his dog Campbell have lived in Rob Lovell’s Barney Point home for more than two years. His lease ran out in November and he thought it was odd when he didn’t hear from the real estate agent. He thought it was because he was a good tenant; when in fact the agent had gone bankrupt and the home owner hadn’t been contacted.
Tyson Lowe and his dog Campbell have lived in Rob Lovell’s Barney Point home for more than two years. His lease ran out in November and he thought it was odd when he didn’t hear from the real estate agent. He thought it was because he was a good tenant; when in fact the agent had gone bankrupt and the home owner hadn’t been contacted. Paul Braven GLACENTURY

A GROUP of Gladstone property owners are down thousands of dollars after belatedly discovering they weren't receiving rent from their letting agency.

Century 21 Harbour City went into bankruptcy last October, but the full extent of the problems caused by the closure are still coming to light - tenants of the rental division continued to pay money into their normal letting account, but it hasn't got to the home owners.

>> What should I do?

It's taken some owners months to discover their investment properties have turned into money sinkholes.

A harbourmaster in Esperance, Western Australia, Rob Lovell, was doing his tax return after a six-month holiday when he realised he hadn't received any rent from his Barney Point property since early December 2015.

The former Gladstone tug boat captain tried to call his former agent at Century 21 but there was no answer.

His tenants didn't answer his calls.

"I had no idea what was happening up there," he said. "How could this be going on for so long and nobody tell me?"

The 61-year-old lived in Gladstone until 2009 when he moved to Esperance.

He listed his property with Century 21 Harbour City because he "liked the attention to detail" the agents had. "I had no problems with them and was shocked when my daughter went online and saw they declared bankruptcy," he said.

His daughter looked online and found The Observer story from October and he learnt why he wasn't being paid. Mr Lovell's tenant of more than two years Tyson Lowe didn't know Century 21 had closed either. He said he had been paying the agency rent the whole time.

That rent is now sitting in an Office of Fair Trading trust account -- but the decision to pay him must first come from the Australian Financial Securities Authority.

And as another home owner (who also contacted this paper) stung by the bankruptcy knows, he shouldn't expect that money soon.

Ruth Archibald realised she hadn't been paid rent when her bank account was overdrawn while caravanning in January. "I was physically sick. It's over $1000 a month and we need the money to cover our loan and our retirement," she said.

Her husband Greg has relisted the property with another agent.

But they still haven't seen a cent from the three months before and are waiting for the Office of Fair Trading to give them the money.

"I'm going to have to work for a couple more years after this disaster, with this problem and the home being worth $200,000 less than what we bought it for. I've never seen the house and I don't want to."

Both the Archibalds and Mr Lovell want to know why they weren't contacted.

>> Have you got a similar story to tell? Contact the reporter here or at email: campbell.gellie@apn.com.au

What should you do?

So, what happens to money paid into a rental account when the letting agency has gone bankrupt?

Thankfully for owners stung by Century 21 Harbour City's bankruptcy last year, there is hope.

The rent has piled up in accounts now administered by Dorleng Key who works for Australian Financial Securities Authority.

Ms Key could not speak on specifics, due to privacy laws, but it is her job to go through a business' assets and distribute the money back to landlords who are due rent. The Office of Fair Trading is working with Ms Key to work out when and who the trust account money goes to.

For landlords to prove they own the property they must show Office of Fair Trading rates notices and then wait for the receivership process to go through.

Ms Key has been able to sell some of the rental listings that were on the books of Century 21 Harbour City -- agents buy them and the money goes back into the pool to pay off creditors.

The Observer understands many of those have been taken by LJ Hooker Gladstone and some by CQ Executive Properties.

Neither of the agencies would say how many properties they had taken on or knew how many were listed at Century 21 to begin with. LJ Hooker director Mark Spearing said it was a tough situation when a real estate agency or anyone in Gladstone went into bankruptcy. He advised the owners of properties who had not been contacted by a real estate agency in Gladstone to call Australian Financial Securities Authority and someone there should be able to tell them who had taken the listing.

Australian Financial Securities Authority can be contacted on 1300 364 785 and Office of Fair Trading on 07 3405 0985.

Topics:  gladstone landlords property real estate



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

$700K Gladstone project will open next week

The proposed Pump Track at Memorial Park in Gladstone.

Start date for Gladstone pump-track announced.

Elderly men charged over alleged pot bust

SUSPECTS CHARGED: Police allegedly found three men 'tending' to cannabis plants when they raided a rural property at Ambrose.

Two men in their sixties have been charged by police after raid.

Top 10 cheapest houses on the market in the Gladstone region

98 Dalrymple Drive Toolooa

A LIST of Gladstone's best, cheapest houses

Local Partners

Jennifer Lawrence gives keys to new partner

Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence

Oscar winner settling down with new partner

Rogue One star proud to lead new Star Wars film

Felicity Jones leads the new Star Wars film

Star Wars lead proud to be in front in sci-fi

What's on the small screen this week

Ernie Dingo stars in the TV series Going Places with Ernie Dingo.

ERNIE Dingo stars in a new travel series and Seven airs the AACTAs.

Mandy Moore feels like she's 60

Mandy Moore sees herself as a 60-year-old rather than a 32-year-old

Goooodbye Hamish and Andy (from our radios)

Hamish and Andy

The pair have been on air since 2006

David Attenborough on facing his mortality

Sir David Attenborough in a scene from the TV special The Death of the Oceans.

Life without Sir David Attenborough is hard to imagine

Chinese locked out of Australian property market

The rules are different if you're a foreigner

The buyer was from China - the trouble started right there

Morrison signs off on new affordable rental model

Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the Council of Federal Financial Relations at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.

Scott Morrison signed off on development of a new financing model

Family scoop bargain $160K 'holiday home' in Gladstone

BARGAIN: A Biloela family has purchased 21 Ann St for $160,000. They try to get to Gladstone at least once a month.

ADVERTISED as "renovate or demolish", but snapped up for getaway.

REVEALED: Gladstone property prices hit lowest in downturn

Aerial View overlooking Kin Kora residential area, Gladstone.



Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer

GLADSTONE PROPERTY prices have hit their lowest since the bust.

Coast high-flyer's fight back from bankruptcy, $72m debt

Scott Juniper went from millionaire developer to declaring bankruptcy in2012, now he is back on top of his game again with new developments including this one in Coolum.

'Apocalyptic lending storm' causes financial collapse.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!