Tag Archives | rta conciliator

Ignoring Requests for Repairs Can Cost Landlords a Bomb!

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 oven 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 then 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 oven was repaired, but the face plate overheated and risked burning anyone who accidentally touched it.

Siobhan immediately notified the agent. The electrician returned 2 weeks later and determined the oven 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 dispute 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 April – May 2012 Newsletter

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Landlords vs Tenants…Free Help to Resolve Disputes!

Landlords vs Tenants…Free Help to Resolve Disputes! 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)

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