QLD Can SIL get out of contract for storage unit? Joint with addict ex-parter

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by sproggledoggle, 11 August 2018.

  1. sproggledoggle

    13 June 2018
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    Hi, earlier in the year my SIL left her long-term addict partner (my brother).

    Brother's complicated drug history: He is actively addicted to meth and opiates and mostly refuses treatment. He also has several criminal charges (around 18 of them I believe, mostly drugs charges and refusing to obey police orders - possible dealing, I'm not sure; this is according to pieces of his often unreliable information).

    His lawyer said (according to my brother anyway) if he didn't attend rehab he may go to jail, but if he went to rehab and they sought an adjournment, he'd be much better off when the charges were heard. So he went into rehab about 2 weeks ago (this is his third or fourth attempt at rehab in the Keith Payne Unit, which really only offers detox services and not a rehab program. Through previous attempts he has continued using. Around 3 months ago he did make one genuine attempt to get clean, sought an actual specialist, who told him his only option was suboxone - but he didn't want to do this, as it would restrict his ability to obtain prescription opiates in future).

    Yesterday after attending court, where his lawyer got a 2-month adjournment of the main charges (I believe his lawyer obtained this on the condition he continue in a rehab program to get clean), he did not return to the hospital after court and is back living in a house with several other addicts. Some of these people have been violent towards him, have stolen from him etc. But they are his main source of drugs. He is homeless, after having spent all of a compensation payment of $35,000 (6 months ago, just after separation) and his share of the proceeds from selling their house (a process he actively obstructed, turning up during open houses with his high friends) $20,000. Pretty much all of this money went on drugs. He does get a DVA pension but has a fairly low income (about $30,000-$40,000 p.a.)

    Storage unit problem: sorry for the ramble. The current problem is this (brother's charges and behaviour aside): my SIL has a joint storage unit with my brother, and the manager will not let her end the contract without him co-signing off on it (I believe to take over the unit in his name). So really, I just want to work out whether there's anything she can do. She has reason to believe he may have kept drugs in there, and he has visited the unit multiple times over the last several months looking for things to sell or pawn. The unit contains only his things, or at least things she's resigned herself to writing off (a lot of their furniture had to be thrown out as it was contaminated with blood and syringes as he allowed his friends to use drugs in their house many times).

    The unit costs about $220 a month and she wants out of the contract, but without my brother signing off (as he signed for it jointly) they say she cannot end the contract. She's worried if she stops paying (and as she's the sole carer for her children and also has a very low income she cannot afford to pay; brother is not contributing at all to the unit cost) it might affect her credit.

    Can she stop paying? Can she end the contract without him signing off? She has asked him multiple times and tried to obtain his signature but he is refusing to give it, probably because he knows he can't pay and wants to keep the storage unit and items inside. Can the storage unit refuse to allow her to end her part of the contract?

  2. DMLegal

    DMLegal Well-Known Member

    28 May 2018
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    Without seeing the contract it is hard to tell since it would all depend on the wording of the T & C's. My understanding however is that the consequence of not paying is a loss of a deposit (if any) and forfeiture of the goods inside the locker unless arrears are paid x days after they were due. I am confident there would be no repercussions on her credit rating but again, depends on the contract. If you could tell us whether any terms or conditions relate to 'default', 'termination' or 'Assignment' it might be possible to provide more accurate information.

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