Whether you’re a lessor (landlord), agent or a tenant, disputes can occur over everything from money matters to repairs. The RTA encourages people to communicate with each other to resolve such issues. But if an agreement cannot be reached, the RTA offers a free dispute resolution service.
Dispute resolution team leader, Lalita D’Netto, said the service helped to re-open the lines of communication. “Our conciliators help people find common ground,” Lalita said. “Most people are reasonable when they are made aware of the issues and sometimes it helps to talk through concerns with an impartial person.”
RTA conciliators cannot instruct people what to do, nor can they make decisions for them. Lalita said most people want to resolve the dispute rather than having the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) make a ruling on their behalf.
The RTA conducts dispute resolution in three ways:
- three-way telephone conference
- face-to-face conciliation
- telephone shuttle: where RTA conciliators hold separate telephone enquiries with each disputing person
The conciliator will choose the best way to deal with the dispute depending on the circumstances involved. The most common disputes occurred during a tenancy and at the end of a tenancy (mainly involving bond refunds), Lalita said. If the dispute cannot be resolved, either party can lodge a Dispute resolution request (Form 16) with the RTA. Once the RTA receives the form, it is registered, a conciliator is allocated and letters are sent out to each party inviting them to take part in a telephone conference.
Lalita said people who wanted to use the dispute resolution service should have prepared documentation like receipts. She said disputes were assessed depending on urgency but most cases were dealt with within 28 days.
If a resolution cannot be reached, a Notice of unresolved dispute is issued to the person who lodged the Form 16. When the issue relates to a bond dispute, under the legislation the party has seven days to apply to QCAT and notify the RTA of their intentions.
People applying to QCAT must lodge the RTA’s Notice of unresolved dispute with their tribunal application. The exception to this rule is if the application is classed as urgent. The RTA received over 21,000 dispute resolution requests in 2010-11. Approximately 14 per cent went on to become applications to QCAT.
Source : RTA Update (03 August 2011)