Professions
How much could an unclean property cost you?
The importance of maintenance for Resident Unit Managers

For resident unit managers (RUMs), maintaining a site in good order is just one of the tasks you have on hand, and undoubtedly one of the most important ones. A poorly maintained property can lead to dissatisfied clients, and potentially costly litigation. Let’s take a look at what can happen when maintenance is not carried out to an appropriate standard, and what resident unit managers need to keep in mind when appointing contractors.…

Tommy* was a resident unit manager looking after a holiday apartment complex in a popular tourist destination. He received an online booking from Lily*, who rented the apartment for her & her family for a week. When Lily arrived at the apartment, she contacted Tommy, and claimed that the apartment had not been cleaned to an acceptable standard. According to Lily, there was a lot of dust, mould and rubbish throughout the apartment. Tommy assured Lily that he would organise another clean of the apartment as soon as he could appoint someone.

The following day, Lily and her family went about their holiday outings, and Tommy organised for a cleaning contractor to clean the apartment while Lily and her family were out. However, once Lily returned, she was still not satisfied with the cleanliness of the place. She made a complaint to Tommy again, who informed her that the complex would now look to replace their cleaning contractors due to their inadequate performance. Lily advised Tommy that she would like to clean the apartment herself.

Lily went about cleaning the apartment however, as she was polishing the stairs, her finger was pierced by a needle. that was not visible due to a build up of dust. Lily became concerned over the needle piercing her finger, and immediately had blood tests done to check whether she was at risk of having contracted any illness. Some of the results of her blood test were indeterminate, which led to Lily suffering depression and other challenges in the months following.

Lily decided to take legal action against Tommy for the trauma she suffered due to the poor condition of the apartment, and her resulting injury. A court ruled in Lily’s favour, and Tommy was ordered to pay an amount of almost $500,000. Fortunately, Tommy had a Resident Unit Managers policy arranged through Aon. Being a broker, Aon was able to advocate on Tommy’s behalf to the insurer, and the insurance policy covered the claim for this compensation, as well as Tommy’s legal fees. However, there are some important aspects to Tommy’s claim that resident unit managers need to be aware of…



Learning from Tommy…

As a resident unit manager, there’s a lot of responsibility on you to keep the properties you manage well maintained. But as you can see, sometimes overlooking details can have significant consequences. Firstly, when it comes to engaging contractors such as cleaners, resident unit managers need to make a decision based on quality of work, and not just select the cheapest contractor. Tommy’s claim also demonstrates the importance of resident unit managers conducting thorough inspections of the property themselves rather than leaving them in the hands of the contractor. By carrying out a detailed inspection before each guest arrives, you can help ensure you’re staying on top of any maintenance and safety issues that the cleaners may not notice.

Lastly, its also important to remember that under no circumstances should a resident unit manager agree to guests carrying out their own maintenance. If a guest repeatedly complains of an apartment’s condition, best practice is to offer alternative accommodation, or immediately hire reputable cleaners to remedy the poor condition of the apartment.

But sometimes, even when all the boxes have been ticked, claims can still surface. An insurance policy is therefore a critical consideration for all resident unit managers. Aon can arrange a Resident Unit Manager’s Insurance policy that has been designed with the needs of RUMs in mind. It includes Professional Indemnity Cover, Public Liability Insurance, and Statutory Liability and complimentary access to the Carter Newell Lawyers claims hotline, subject to full policy terms and conditions. To find out more about Resident Unit Manager’s Insurance, visit our website.

* This story is based on a real-life claim experienced by a resident unit manager client with insurance arranged by Aon. All names have been anonymised for privacy reasons.