Management Rights 2005-2012

Our forays into Management Rights 1997-2010 were simply a means of marking time as our superannuation grew.

Apart from earning a living we were looking for an investment “multi-bagger”.

It took us three years of contract work in the industry before we recognised a golden opportunity - Waterford Park - (WP).

Photos shows: Entrance, Home-Office, style of apartment. The complex was next to Loganlea station which was an Express Stop between Brisbane City and the Gold Coast,

In 2009 Carmel and I set up a management system for the caretaking and letting of a new 107 unit townhouse gated estate.

Waterford Park

We were contracted to the developers prior to incorporation of the Body Corporate.

The developers went into receivership and were dodgy. We gave notice after four months.

I then took on an assignment in Cairns which turned out to last 6 months. Carmel stayed at our beachside unit in Mermaid Beach. She was in cahoots with my sister Jen investigating opportunities as a joint venture partnership.

Within ten months of our departure there was chaos at WP.

It was a low socio-economic location. The replacement manager was “king hit” in his first week on site.
Hence, thereafter he was somewhat timid in his approach to discipline within the compound. Collectively, the management team made bad choices such as:

  • Poor selection of tenants;

  • Unauthorised use of the Trust Account;

  • Rent default management;

  • General dereliction of duties.

Landlords were deserting the Letting Pool and the Department of Fair Trading was about to cancel WP's license to operate. The owner, a Director of the failed developers, was forced to sell.

Given our initial involvement, we knew WP to be a good business. In 2010, we offered a low price with the carrot of an unconditional contract.

The “Rescue”

We were dealing with people living “on the edge".

Most memorable is a single mother who would not have met basic rental assessment criteria: Her circumstances:

  • Unemployed and clearly a heavy drinker and smoker

  • A child on the ADD disorder spectrum

  • Took out a loan to pay new management $1500 in back-rent

  • The next night, after settling her rent, she lost all her worldly possessions in a fire that also gutted the townhouse that we managed

She escaped the fire - the only injuries (which we helped with First Aid were burn blisters between the index and middle fingers).

As with all insurance matters, forensic investigators were called in to establish the cause of the fire.

He confirmed our suspicions.

Then there were tenants who were living in squalor

… then there were the drug dealers

… then there were the other Basket Cases - all lined up.

The partnership was fantastic. We were family; we drew upon individual expertise and worked towards replacing the bad tenants with income earners such as doctors and nurses from the adjacent regional hospital.

We had mantras:

  • Tough but Fair;

  • If you cannot communicate… you cannot command

  • If you cannot command you cannot control

  • Better Service ... Better Business

Golf Cart - Great acquition given size of the complex

To be mobile, we purchased a second hand golf cart.

We did not replace the leaky muffler. We used the vehicle 24/7 to:

  • drop reminders and breach notices at the door

  • replace light bulbs;

  • carry material;

  • pick up rubbish.

The audible putt putt was a subtle reminder of notions of service, communication and security.

Not so subtle was the engagement a Security Company for whom we could instantly call on to bring in dogs to “communicate” to the hard of hearing.

We had the tidiest complex in the district. Every few days, I would organise a rubbish collection wth the Golf Cart and children within the estate. Everybody would pile on board. A designated driver would be replaced (next round) by the child who would jump off and collect the most paper, twigs and stone out of place. There was no danger - as I sat in the co-passenger seat with my foot under the accelerator pedal. It was a community event - enjoyed both by spectator and participant.

The workload was paced - Three Months on Three Months off. Hence could achieve goals without burn out.

Layout of each Unit

Within six months we had rescued the estate thus gaining the approbation of all stakeholders.

There was general Good Will and Reciprocity.

Our business boomed.

Looking back, I believe it was a documented management model - much needed in the industry and capable of replication.

It was not always plain sailing.

Generally, our problems came from ‘Outsiders”- invitees-relatives who were persons with different cultural norms and indifferent or ignorant of the by laws.

Memorable Incidents

The Hammer Attacker

One evening around dusk there was an incident of a drug deal gone wrong in the external car park.

A person attacked a husband/wife couple with a hammer. Their injuries required hospitalisation (the husband serious; the wife not so serious)

I was absent from the complex. Carmel, however, was involved in the aftermath.
She rang 000 then took it upon herself to follow this stranger to a unit within the complex.

With this information the police swooped on the premises and took the assailant away.

He was not charged and later released from custody because the victims were too terrified to press charges.

Two days later the wife came to the office.

She was in a state. She said their associate still had their motor vehicle in his possession and pleased if we help her have it returned. She said the police could not intervene because they had declined to press charges and had no one else for whom to turn.

We were in a quandary. We had a highly dangerous unapproved resident in our complex and there was a situation, which, while none of our business had to be resolved.

…I knocked at the front door of this unit.

Hello, you don't know me, I am the manager of this complex.

This lady claims the car outside is hers and she would like the keys”.

OK … wait one minute

Shortly he came outside with a large towel and walked directly to the car; got in; wrapped something up in the towel and then handed over the key to the lady who high tailed it - never to be seen again.

Relieved I said “Thank you. By the way … what’s that wrapped in the towel".

A Samurai sword” he said sullenly.

A Bloody big one Officer

Around midnight on the very last night as On Site manager, I received a call from a resident about two men fighting on the internal roadway within the complex.

I got into the golf cart-utility vehicle and putt putted up to these highly intoxicated strangers.

Passing them I said “You both need to scram. The police are on their way.
The trick here to say that while tugging your ear. This gives the impression in the dark that you have have just finished ringng the cops.

One protagonist immediately walked away. The other staggered to the middle of the road impeding my return drive to the office. He was now brandishing a knife.

I knew I was at a disadvantage being in the golf cart so I alighted brandishing a three foot iron bar.

He slipped into the dark; I scampered back home leaving the vehicle "in situ" and called the police.

The police arrived hours later. The reporting officer asked me to describe the knife.

“A bloody Big one Officer”…

Vrmm! Bang! Crash! Crunch!

Then there was the case of the hoon revving a souped and up modified vehicle. He had followed another vehicle thru the entry gates which automatically closed behind him.

Carmel and I were in this vicinity. I took him to task about interfering with the peaceful enjoyment of others.

F… Off!” Was the response.

By this time the entry gate had closed.

I figured I now had him trapped.

I also was aware that, by coincidence, a police wagon with two constables was also inside the complex serving a warrant.

I pointed to the “Blue n White” and said “OK! Let’s see what those coppers over there have to say about you”.

I walked towards the police vehicle leaving Carmel to continue dealing with this unpleasant trespasser.

Next thing there was this almighty cacophony of metal-on-metal and metal-on-bitumen.

He had maneuvered his vehicle to reverse into the roller gate demolishing it as he drove over it and away in direction of the Logan Motorway.

Carmel missed serious injury as she was perilously in the way of a crazed driver and subject to flying debris.

We never did find out who he was visiting and the police advised the number plates were fake.


During our first stint at WP, Carmel awoke to a noise downstairs. She nudged me but I rolled over. Like countless other times she sneaked to the stairwell. This startled an intruder who crash tackled furniture in an attempt to clear out of the house;

Very early one morning a resident was exiting the estate on his way to work.

A person sitting on the roof of a two story duplex block was calling for help.
He could not get down.

He subsequently told the arresting policeman he was attempting burglary by dislodging tiles and entering through a manhole in the ceiling.

The Coca Cola Kid

A young resident was walking back from the local shop when he came upon a firebrand setting alight a portion of the boundary's wooden fence line.

The quick thinking youth poured two bottles of coke on the looming disaster.

We replaced his losses with a crate of fizzy.

Burly Maoris

Carmel and I, as a pair, took on six to seven Islanders who were having such fun "bombing" in the pool and were indignant and non-compliant as to our request to cease.

They were more incensed when we threatened to have the dogs put on them.

It was brinkmanship - but given the numbers of onlookers we had to demonstrate that rules needed to be applied uniformly.

“… an Improved Social Condition”

Some 27 months later, the Malone-Grieve partnership sold the business whereupon our share of the sale far exceeded our 2005 disaster - even allowing for the "Opportunity Costs" of that loss.

The day we left, an Afghani refugee, a single mother with three children came into the office to say “good bye” to our team. How she expressed her personal thanks made a toughie cry! We made a difference!

Carmel and I returned to a healthier and financially secured retirement in a better frame of mind - to appreciate and saviour.