Cleaning up Melbourne’s property management game

Cleaning up Melbourne’s property management game
Jack Hayes

Managing director and owner of inner-city real estate agency Re-Define Real Estate Philip Middlemiss has seen a thing or two during his 21 years in the industry.

After recently purchasing a new business with a portfolio of more than 500 properties, Mr Middlemiss was shocked to see the state of property management in Melbourne’s inner city.

From forged, out-of-date or incorrect documentation to properties without essential services; he knew something needed to be done.

Now, he is on a crusade to clean up the industry, for the benefit of not only his growing business, but the rest of Melbourne’s property management game.

“Our industry is in a state of flux. The recent changes to legislation, including the introduction of the bi-annual safety checks, have created more work for agents,” Mr Middlemiss said. “Combined this with the effects on rents due to COVID-19, which have caused mass movements of people in and out of the city. The inner-city agent, is very busy indeed.”

“Some of the practises we have uncovered include people other than the owners signing documents, agents telling rental providers “not to worry about safety checks, no one is checking”, and renters having to go without essential services for prolonged periods of time, as the rental providers don’t want to spend the money to fix the issue”.


“My competitors are going to hate me for shining a light on this, but property management in Melbourne needs to be cleaned up and we need to support those who are leading the way in the industry.”


According to Mr Middlemiss, with an investor market that consists dominantly of overseas owners, the property management industry is primed for local agents wanting to cut corners when it comes to property inspections and dodging new legislation.

At Re-Define Real Estate, Mr Middlemiss’s team of 12 staff work across 400 different properties, an unusually high agent-to-property ratio, to ensure his staff provide the best possible service for their investors.

“Throughout the pandemic more than 4500 property managers have left the industry nation-wide,” Mr Middlemiss said. “A lot is due to the condition’s property managers have been forced to face, particularly during routine inspections.”

“Aggressive animals, undressed tenants, hoarding, drug use and plenty of dirty underwear, we have seen it all recently.”

In an attempt to shake up the way his business and the industry functions, Mr Middlemiss has forgone the traditional idea of a property manager in exchange for a term he feels is more apt: “relationship managers.”

He has introduced fair representation for both the rental provider and the renter, which has levelled the playing field when it comes to getting this done.

The job of his relationship managers is to proactively educate and communicate with investors to keep them abreast on changes to legislation and the state of their property.

Mr Middlemiss has also revolutionised the traditional role of a property manager by forming a new business, Respect Residential, which offers inspection services for local agents and those wanting to “self-manage”.

“I have a number of clients interested in the service, even agents on the Gold Coast, asking if I can fly up and help them,” Mr Middlemiss said.

“They don’t have the time or people to inspect apartments, but for less than $100 a year, they can get someone to do it for them.”

“Routine inspections are a vital role when it comes supporting both the Rental Provider and the Renter alike. With such busy schedules due to the recent legislative changes, an agent or now property owner can now employ a professional to do the job for them.” •

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