NSW Breaking Lease Fiasco, unsure about legality of $900 bill!

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Kartik Mishra

Member
4 June 2018
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0
1
Hi,

We started paying rent for a property in Gwynneville in mid December (as we were moving interstate and needed a place to put our things). We actually started living in it from early January. On the 15th of January we handed in a condition report about our property quoting a few broken things, including that the oven was not working as expected.

After this i had to follow this up twice and the tradesman finally came out on the 22nd of Feb. He left saying there were some parts that were required for the job. We don't hear back for another month so I send an email on the 25th of March and the guy comes to have another look that weekend, not quite fixing the oven.

We keep playing this game till the end of April (at this stage, we've been paying rent for 4 months, lights still flickering, oven still not working properly, hot water running out halfway through a 2nd shower), and we send a notice of wanting to leave (mostly because of these issues, partly due to a circumstance change) as they are in breach of the contract. The visits from the appliance guy ramps up (visits 3 times to fix things), and people start visiting to fix the other issues too. We consulted NCAT and they said that if they are able to fix the oven within the time that you move out, you can't be in breach of contract, but you can claim rent reduction for the time you have had issues.

We decide that we'll focus on moving out for now as at this rate they will most likely fix the oven and other issues. I get a really rude reply from the property manager, so I give her a call, explain the situation and ask for her advice (oven broken, breach of contract). I get told to not escalate this to tribunal, and if we want to move out we can, if we find someone to take over our lease we don't have to worry about the breaking the lease charge, and we shouldn't worry about advertising as facebook and private rental websites "aren't as safe as advertising through them".

We give the real estate agency a 4 week notice on the 9th of May (to return keys on the 4th of June), and they put the ad for the place on their website on the 11th of May, and were told that they will hold an inspection (open house) on the 17th of May. We do the work and find someone to take over our lease, and they get approved for the apartment on the 16th of May, one day before the inspection, and hence the inspection / open house has been cancelled. We celebrate as we've found someone to take over our lease, so we won't have to pay the charge to break the lease (as we were told over the phone).

Fast forward to 28th May and I sent an email to the property agent asking for a pro-rata calculation of our lease for the last week of rent (our weeks started on friday and i was handing the keys in on monday as per the 4 week notice). I get a sent a bill on the 30th of May, which is more than twice a weeks rent, with the breakdown:
1. rent for 1 week
2. Let fee (one week rent + gst)
3. Advertising fee
4. Lease prep fee

Apparently when we signed the lease, there was a rules document attached to it which says:
BREAK LEAISE
The tenant/s agree that by breaching the agreefirenf you ar€ still responsible for rent
urtil the property is re-let or until the agr.eement expires (whieheverhappens fi*t),
together with any losses the ownermay suffer in trying to lgcate a new tsrant. You
would be responsible for payrnent of the following costs:-
AGENT'S RE.LETTING FEE & ADVERTISING FEES

I paid the 1 week rent, handed in the keys and asked them to send me an invoice. I got the invoice yesterday (4th of June) which is now totally $30 more than the initial invoice they sent (on 28th of May). I have paid the initial amount they had asked for, and asked what the $30 charge is for, not wanting to pay it unless we have to.

I am wondering the following things:
1. Do I have a case for rent reduction / breach of contract here? Which route should i proceed for a quicker result?
2. Is the clause from the Rules document even legal?
3. If we found someone to take over our lease, are there any costs that should be involved at all?
4. What is the $30 charge for?

If anyone has any insights, please tell us! Feeling really trapped by this whole fiasco
 

Kartik Mishra

Member
4 June 2018
4
0
1
Just got a call from the appliance company telling us they've received the parts for the oven. So even after handing in the keys, the oven is not fixed.
 

Rod

Lawyer
LawConnect (LawTap) Verified
27 May 2014
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Recommend getting them to send you an email confirming parts are in.
 

Kartik Mishra

Member
4 June 2018
4
0
1
Recommend getting them to send you an email confirming parts are in.
Not sure how to ask for this, I told the appliance place that they need to contact the property agents since we've moved out.

If you have any suggestions about the other questions, please send them through!
 

Rod

Lawyer
LawConnect (LawTap) Verified
27 May 2014
7,767
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2,894
www.hutchinsonlegal.com.au
Pay what you believe is a reasonable amount then let them chase you for money. Downside is you may end with a black mark on your rental history.

Else negotiate a deal where both parties are happy and avoid a black mark which should be part of the agreement.