Fix it or Fight… How Ignored Repairs Can Become Tenancy Disputes

repairsPoorly completed repairs have sparked an increase in dispute resolution requests between Tenants and Lessors.

A Brisbane Tenant, Siobhan, spent weeks trying to resolve a problem with an over before asking the RTA for help.

Shortly after moving into her apartment, Tenant Siobhan noticed that the dial on the oven was worn. As she could not be sure of the oven’s temperature or setting, she wasn’t able to use the oven.

Siobhan told her Agent about the problem, and it took 6 months for the oven dial to be replaced.

The oven broke down completely. Siobhan phoned the Agent, and a few weeks later sent him a written maintenance request.

The following month an electrician came and said the thermostat had to be replaced. Six weeks after that, the over was repaired, but the face plate overhead and risked burning anyone who accidentally touched it.

Siobhan immediately notified the Agent. The electrician returned 2 weeks later and determined the over needed a new face plate.

At this point, Siobhan lodged a Dispute Resolution Request (Form 16) with the RTA and an RTA conciliator facilitated discussion between the Tenant and Agent.

Siobhan sought $55 per week rent reduction, dated from her written notification to the Agent and continuing until the oven was fixed or the Tenancy Agreement ended.

After negotiations in which offers were put forward by both sides, the Owner said he was willing to allow a rent reduction of $38 per week for the agreed period.

Siobhan accepted the offer and the conciliator drew up a Conciliation Agreement, which became legally binding once it had been signed by Siobhan, the Agent and the Owner.

RTA Senior Conciliator Mandi Lewis said this case was part of a growing number of disputes prompted by general repairs and maintenance.

“It is the Lessor or Agent’s responsibility to maintain the Property in good condition, while the Tenant must keep the Property clean and undamaged,” Ms Lewis said.

“If repairs are needed, most Agents require the Tenant to log a maintenance request.”

She said that if the problem wasn’t fixed the Tenant could issue the Lessor/Agent a Notice to Remedy Breach (Form 11).

If no agreement is reached during the RTA’s free disputer resolution process, an application could be lodged to have the matter heard by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal) where an adjudicator would determine the outcome.

Source : RTA Newsletter (April – May 2012)


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