There are few countries in the world where one feels like one is in a free society. I have lived in a number of countries, and among them I would have to say that in terms of 'freedom from some form of extortion', I probably most felt extorted in New Zealand and the Philippines. NZ is probably worse, but then I feel richer in the Philippines because things are generally cheaper. In Australia or Japan, I did not feel so much of a problem, at least not at a commercial level.
I have been living in a short term rental lease in Queenstown, NZ, and I must say that the property managers in this place are abysmal for the following reasons:
1. Their contract was wrong from day one - they could not even calculate the right some. I can't remember if it was in our favour or theirs.
2. The property condition report was very adverse to us - in as much as they had not picked up a lot of the property damage. This is a potential rort. I complained about this. The problem is that when the agent 'misses' so many items, you are destined to miss some as well.
3. The property manager did not provide me with a copy of the property report. This is strange. I have never leased in NZ before, but it strikes me as strange that the tenant does not get a copy of the report. I asked for acknowledgement that they have received my copy. It was a struggle to get even that.
4. I was required to clean the apartment when I left the property. This might have been appropriate if I had in fact been in there more than 3 months, and the carpet needed cleaning. This strikes me as another rort. What I will do is that when I leave, I will require that they produce evidence that the carpets had been cleaned prior to my entering the premises, because I remember otherwise.
Australia has a rather good regulatory system for managing the relationship between tenants and landlords. In fairness to landlords, they are probably not making much money. At least not the owners of apartments like these. You are buying a depreciating asset, you have high property management fees. The property manager can be viewed standing around talking to people. Property managers are making easy money probably, when the asset owners get a raw deal. It is of course the owners of land who get the sweet deal.
I don't like living in a police state. Neither do I like living in a country where you are inclined to feel everyone is our to squeeze you for a buck. Nor do I like living in a society where you accept the requirement to pay tax, you live in fear of the system, but you deceive everyone around you by rorting the system. i.e. You set up a business, you rort the system with all these false or dubious business expenses, in order to keep your taxes down. People with a respect for reality, or honest people are penalised. Pretty soon there are no honest people left.
Welcome to the real world. Its not so pleasant. Everyone is a con, but only because they have to be in order to survive. No one questions the system because no one can change the system. You suck it up, then one day there is riots. We are witnessing them today in the Middle East. Its like a domino effect. Repressed individuals seemingly become incensed overnight and protest. We saw the same in the 1990s with the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.
One day consumers, taxpayers, maybe everyone is going to say they have had enough. I just hope that they don't turn to government for solutions, because they are middlemen; they are the problem.
If you are thinking my contempt for the practice of a Queenstown property manager is enough. I am accustomed to being rorted. I have dealt with the building trades. Same in Australia mind you. The building trade in Japan I believe is pretty clean...at least in the cities. I think when you are dealing with businesses reliant on their reputation, you get better service. There will come a time when people will go online looking for services, and for people with a good reputation. We are not there yet, but it will come. Accreditation. People will start to care about their reputation, just as they did in the old days. I love the internet. It will give me the freedom I ultimately deserve.