Tenants are furious at a South Australian boutique property manager who uses Facebook and an online map source to check up on them, but landlords believe it works so well they’ve started too.
Steadfast Property Managers principal Mark Leslie uses a free online map source called ‘NearMaps’ -which is updated monthly- to spy on tenants for his landlords.
“We started having problems, so we started using Google maps and then we moved to NearMaps, which is much more up to date and a much higher resolution.
“We catch people out all the time. It’s really how they look after their yard. Obviously we can only inspect it every three months,” he told Real Estate Business.
“But when we say ‘shift that trampoline’ or ‘please don’t park on the lawn’ and then sure enough, we’re able to follow up on that and see that they’re still doing it.
“So we give them a call, and the deny it and we say ‘sorry, on the 26th of August at 3:04PM you had your car on the lawn’ at which they get extremely aggressive.
“People either say it’s an invasion of privacy or it’s stalking. Or they love it. And as far as I’m concerned we work on behalf of the landlord.
“In fact one of the landlords told us he’d found someone out himself, because we don’t have time to check everyone.
“He found the tenant had erected a swimming pool, which was destroying the grass,” said Mr Leslie.
But NearMaps isn’t the only online source Mr Leslie uses.
“Some searches on dubious applicants came up on Facebook and Google so we started implementing it more and more.
"It's to see the types of photos and the functions they attend or the photos may have their house in them.
“We received a letter from an applicant with a company masthead and when we checked the street address we found it was a residential house. So a further Google search on the ABN found that it was a fake company.”
Greg Moulton president of the Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA) agreed that as long as only publicly accessible and legal information was being used to monitor tenants it was supported by REISA.