VIC Damage to Property - What Can Landlord Do Under Property Law?

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by Parallel, 4 February 2017.

  1. Parallel

    Parallel Well-Known Member

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    Firstly, I acknowledge I did not write-up an agreement with this person who I trusted and considered a friend. Secondly, I am too trusting in people and I acknowledge I am too generous and kind. I am learning to say no, that's enough!

    My 'friend' and I agreed that she could occupy my home at the same weekly rental amount she was paying in her previous home ($475 per week) and she would pay all the bills (electricity, water, garden mowing). This is my my primary residence; I have 3 kids still living at home that I am financially taking care of (including private school fees; absolutely everything; I receive $0 child support).

    Our home is 90 minutes from school so I rent up in the city and do short-term holiday rentals to cover the large mortgage and bills on the primary residence. It basically breaks even. Over the summer months I can rent out the home for $600 per night, gaining between $16,000 - $20,000 (before costs). This sacrifice means the kids and I cannot be in the home over the summer. So the deal struck with my friend seemed like a win win. She would pay enough money to cover my mortgage and pay all the bills.

    A financial loss as it is nothing compared to the rental income I can make. I still needed to cover the council rates and a new hot water service and all the costs of maintaining the home. I planned to paint the exterior of the home by myself and my 'friend' said she would find me 'Workaday' travellers to help paint and repair deteriorating carpentry projects. In her family she has her German partner (she declares herself a single mum to Centrelink and receives the concessions) and their toddler, and 2 other family members that she employs in her restaurant. In addition she also turned 2 bedrooms and a bathroom space (which she had crudely blocked off by a carpenter) so her 6 international people she was employing at her restaurant could reside.

    My belief was that we were co-habitating and my kids and I would come and go and be there for the summer, I would paint and repair and garden. (I am an extremely hard working hands on person). I am also struggling financially due to an acrimonious property settlement and one child severely ill that I need to come and go to attend to. Not long after my kids and I got down there to enjoy the summer, my 'friend' stated that her partner did not like us being in the house when he woke up and we needed to be scarce when he was around.

    I was furious but kept calm as I noticed she was in a destructive relationship with her partner and their child had to be taken to hospital (not before he had 2 bongs). Summer season in her take away restaurant is highly stressful and she was getting only a few hours sleep. I took pity and told my family and friends we would comply and thought it was positive to spend more time outside and not in front of the TV.

    After a week or so I overheard abusive disagreements between the couple and one night a physical fight where punches were thrown and I said I am calling the police. The partner was incredibly intimidating towards me and the next day I took my children and left.

    My 'friend' then messaged me she was having her German partner's family come to stay in the house for 2 months and that I should not be there. I then said no, and said our agreement was therefore terminated. She has since stopped paying the rent and bills. She and her people of had little respect for my beautiful home and my ability to live there. She is threatening me she will not repair, clean if she has to move out immediately.

    My 17 year old daughter waitressed casually for her last summer and my 'friend' pressure my daughter into a apprenticeship and supposedly transferred hundreds of dollars and then required it to be withdrawn and paid back in cash. I have since called the apprentice ship Australia and they say the contract was never executed. My 'friend' is demanding I pay her $600 of what she claims my daughters owes her in this arrangement.

    I have landlord insurance with GIO, but i am guessing it will not cover lodgers who do damage, malicious or otherwise. She has stated she will be departing 6/2/17 and will have cleaned and "painted" whatever that means and will give me back my home on the 9th. Meanwhile she has moved 2 Germans into my and my children beds amongst our stuff.

    I am torn whether to get the police and evict. But there may be laws protecting people when there is a child. If I can wait it out one more week she may possibly leave the house in an ok order. I listed in my return message to her all the damage I had noted (no response only threats towards me to pay her!!). I documented the house with photos on the day of her arrival including the bottle of wine and welcoming note

    What can I legally do under property law to get them out with the least amount of damage and cost?
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Lawyer
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    Complicated. Situation is somewhere between boarding and renting.

    You have said she move in 2 days time. Wait your 2 days and see if she moves.

    You have 3 options if she doesn't move:
    1. Ask them nicely to move now. Not likely to work. Do not recommend this option.
    2. Assume boarding situation.
      • Hire a security team on 7 Feb for two days. Having a team of 6 burly no-nonsense security people who know how to handle themselves makes a big difference. Advice the police before hand you are planning to recover access to your own house. Have paperwork showing your ownership of the property (eg title, rates notice, driver licence etc) with you on the day and when you see police. Tell police you are evicting boarders turned squatters.
      • Hire a locksmith for the 7 Feb and change the locks
      • Warn people in the house they will be charged with trespass if they so much as set foot on your land again.
      • Have 2 or 3 security stay overnight and next day.
      • Next day advise police you now have sole possession.
    3. Assume they are renting. They have passed the day they said they'd move (7 Feb 2017), start VCAT case to have them evicted.
    I know which option I'd choose, particularly if the partner is a violent person. Might cost a bit, but much less hassle and better protects your property.

    re: Daughter owing money. Can't make a contract with a minor, and can't use a non-existing apprenticeship as a basis for a claim.

    Keep us updated.
     
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  3. Parallel

    Parallel Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Rod, very much appreciated.

    Can I take them to court to revcover costs (outstanding rent, bills, damages, cost of the burly blokes etc) ?
     
  4. Rod

    Rod Lawyer
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    Some costs, yes.

    Board (not rent), damages, probably bills, possibly security. You'd make the claim for all cost if you go to court and see what the magistrate orders.
     
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