Tenancy Hearings: A How Not to do It Guide.

Posted on 08/31/10 in General, 7 Comments


I have over the last few years never had the opportunity to go to the tenancy tribunal until yesterday, but based on the reports of the property managers I’ve spoken to I haven’t missed much.

It seems that they call it the “Tenancy” Tribunal for a reason, it seems that whenever one of the managers or other investors that I know have gone alone with a gripe of some sort they were on the back foot straight away.

So along I go with no real preconcevied ideas other than that maybe I should try to be on my best behavior (don’t laugh it happens).

So we are called into the room and the tenant gets to speak first and I bite my tongue while an interesting version of reality is played out.

The main gripe seems to be that…

  1. The Landlord had entered the property without giving proper notice.
  2. The roof of the property leaks.
  3. The Bond had not been paid in to the bond center.

After it took the tenant a good 25 minutes to howl and moan and the adjudicator completed this fairly simple list, and asked me to answer to these grievous accusations.

Firstly I had to conceed that when giving 24 hours notice to enter the property my property manager had in fact only sent a text to the tenant to notify them, the adjudicator acknowledged that this was an except able way to give notice of access.

At this point the tenant made the comment that he did not in fact receive the text messages as his phone didn’t “Get Text’s”, I had anticipated that this was a tactic that he would take and so I had my phone in hand and sent him a text right then.

His phone beeped and I asked the obvious question…

What was that?

The message I sent was a bit rude (Ahem…) so I won’t repeat it, but lets just say that everyone had to conceded that in fact his phone did work and maybe notice had been given to access the property.

The second point of contention was that the roof of this property did leak like a bucket with no bottom and this was hard to contest.

My problem with this is that roof leaks are so very hard to track down, a leak can literaly happen at one end of the house and run down a rafter and show up at the other end of the house.

We had been in the roof many times and had spent a load of money on the problem to little avail, so the adjudicator asked the question that only an elected official or non investor would ask “Why don’t you just get a new roof?”.

Oh Yeah great idea, why didn’t I think of that?

Rent = $305 per week, roof = $28,700 plus GST so assuming I get the work done before the increase in GST and assuming I have no mortgage over the property (Yeah Right), it’s going to take just over 2 years to pay for the new roof.

Not really much of an option.

But the thing that really irked me was that the tenants side of the story regarding the roof was instantly believed to be fact.

Never mind that I had completed extensive work on the roof over the last few months and had spent about $4k on getting it watertight, or that I had a 4 day old house inspection companies report showing that they believed it was watertight and dry.

I thought the inspection report was a home run but the only reply I got was “Did you inform the tenants that you would be going into the property to have the inspection done?”, far out what a tough crowd.

The part that I thought was at least a small feather in my cap that I had relied on to make my case a bit stronger was that I had given the tenant notice (Via text message DOH!), that I would have my builder at the property one afternoon to make the repairs they had requested.

When they found my builder in the property fixing the issues they had asked to be addressed THEY KICKED HIM OUT!!!

Which really leave’s me with few options.

The bond issue that the tenants brought up seemed to be that the bond office said they had $1350, the tenants said they had paid $1350 and the tenancy agreement said that the bond was $915.

You would think that was no big deal just an incorrect agreement, wrong again that seems to have been my fault too.

Anyway rant over, but what I wanted to point out was that I lost this round at the tenancy tribunal and the tenants were excused from the last 6 months of their fixed term agreement.

I’m not sure what it was that I did to encourage the wrath of the almighty adjudicator but one thing is for sure, when I walked into that room to be “Heard” I was the evil slum lord and had to fight to prove my innocence.

The thing that really annoyed me was the tenant knew this and I’m sure that tenants are now signing long agreements with the knowledge that they are close to optional as they can opt out by taking a heartfelt load of rubbish to a hearing and get excused from their obligations.

Sorry about the Rant, something lighter tomorrow I promise.

7 Comments

  1. Shayne

    And you got our ‘favourite’ ajudicator. No matter how in the right you are, you are always on the back foot with him. I had one with him the other day where he spent fifteen minutes quizzing the rent summary until I buted ina nd pointed that (again) that neither I or the tenant disagreed with my rent summary and that the tenants had agreed 15 minutes earlier that yes they owed that much money.
    It is incredibly frustrating that some ajudicators and mediators are so heavily on the tenants side that you literaly have to fight to get to even neutral ground.
    I have spent the last few years talking to various people at Min.Justice and the like and trying to get the tribunals to use some of the power they have to make ‘Orders off the papers’ – ie when its just about rent – you send the Tribunal the supporting documents, they contact the tenants and get their supporting docs and then make an order – all without one having to waste weeks waiting for a Tribunal hearing. But, everytime someone there says “hey thats a good idea” I just know its not going to go anywhere.
    Anyway I should stop my rant now – this is your blog space 🙂

    Posted 8-31-2010

  2. Josh

    Hmmm, I wonder if the ajudicator is a tenant themselves?? Might give credibility to being on the side of the tenants……

    Posted 9-1-2010

  3. Steve

    OK so today I got a call from a property manager asking me to comment on how good/bad or terrible these tenants were?

    They actually put me down as a reference!

    The gall of these people.

    Steve

    Posted 9-1-2010

  4. Shayne

    He’s special mate 🙂

    Posted 9-1-2010

  5. Gavin

    I hope you gave an accurate description of your experience of the tennant, abridged of course to remove the expletives.

    Posted 9-1-2010

  6. Chayot

    Great, we’ve a hearing this Fri. I have a feeling it’s going to be very interesting. He’s our fav tenant.

    Posted 9-1-2010

  7. Bill

    We had a good one recently where we rented out a two bed flat, with living room, to a tenant. They promptly turned the living room into a thrid bedroom and even noted it on their T/A in their own handwriting, signed and dated it. After a couple of years of demanding this, demanding that, being extremely rude to every tradesman we sent around they then had the gall to take us to the TT to say that urgent repairs weren’t being done. They also demanded a second entrance be put into the flat “for safety reasons”. No problem, had to use one of the bedrooms, put a nice ranch slider in, and built and external, enclosed patio. They then took us back to TT to say the rent they were paying for their “ONE” bedroom flat was excessive!!! (They were still using the house as a three-bed, as witnessed by an independent local property mananger). The TT dismissed all of the claims we made and ordered that the rent was excessive and was reduced by $50 per week!!! Go figure that one! We gave the tenant 90 Days (yep, you guessed it, back to the TT who, this time, upheld our notice) but it still took a Court order, the Bailiffs and the Police to remove them.

    Fortunately, this is the worst example in over 20 years of property investing, but it certainly shows that the supposedly impartial Adjudicators are definitely very one-eyed!!!

    Posted 9-6-2010

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