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QLD Do I have Grounds to Sue Real Estate Agents?

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by Mkr88, 2 November 2015.

  1. Mkr88

    Mkr88 Active Member

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    I am coming to the end of a 6 month lease of a brand new duplex apartment. Unit 1 (my neighbour) has a 3 bedroom house, and I live in unit 2, a smaller 2 bedroom apartment style unit. Both are metered and rented separately. After moving in, I became aware that there was no Telstra or NBN connection to unit 2, however both were available to unit 1. My unit has telephone points installed and there is an NBNco box installed outside under the electricity meter, so I assumed on inspection that these services would be available to me.

    There was a lot of back and forward between the real estate agents, builders and myself and I was constantly reassured that the issue would be resolved. After a couple months, when nothing seemed to be eventuating, I formally requested that my rent be decreased to reflect the lack of services. Real estate agent declined, and insisted they were working to fix it. I issued them with a breach notice, they did nothing. I applied for mediation with the RTA, nothing happened. After a couple more months with no change, I asked to end my lease by mutual agreement. Real estate declined, and said I was welcome to go to QCAT.

    I began filling out forms for QCAT, but was unable to get good legal advice and with only 6 weeks left on my lease, I decided just to wait it out. I didn't want to risk losing money, having my bond withheld, real estate making my life hell, etc.

    I have given notice of intention to leave, and would like to have my bond refunded and not be black listed.. But I'm not happy that I have paid 6 months of full rent when I have not:
    1. Had access to a phone line
    2. Had access to Internet (I had to defer my uni studies, postponing my graduation by a year)
    3. Been able to use air conditioning because there was no remote provided (despite requesting one from real estate several times)

    Do I have any grounds to sue? And can I sue after the lease has ended and my bond money is securely back in my pocket?

    Thank you for any help!
     
  2. James D. Ford - Solicitor

    James D. Ford - Solicitor Well-Known Member

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    Hi Mkr88

    When you say nothing happened when you applied for mediation with the RTA - please elaborate?

    Do you have a Notice of Unresolved Dispute issued by the RTA?

    This is required before you can apply to QCAT.

    The basis of your claim for decreased rent could be based on the following section of the Act:

    RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AND ROOMING ACCOMMODATION ACT 2008 - SECT 94
    94 Rent decreases
    (1) This section applies if the premises—

    (a) are destroyed, or made completely or partly unfit to live in, in a way that does not result from a breach of the agreement; or(b) no longer may be used lawfully as a residence; or(c) are appropriated or acquired compulsorily by an authority.

    (2) This section also applies if—

    (a) services, facilities or goods to be provided to the tenant under the agreement are no longer available or are withdrawn other than because the tenant failed to meet the tenant's obligations under the agreement; or
    (b) the amenity or standard of the premises decreases substantially other than because of malicious damage caused by the tenant.

    (3) The rent payable under the agreement decreases accordingly or, if an order for a decrease in the rent is made by a tribunal, to the extent stated in the order.

    (4) A tribunal may make an order for a rent decrease only if—

    (a) the tenant applies to the tribunal for the order; and
    (b) if this section applies because of subsection (1)—the premises are partly unfit to live in.
     
  3. Mkr88

    Mkr88 Active Member

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    Thank you so much for your reply.

    After I lodged the dispute resolution with the RTA, I received a call from a mediator and I briefly explained the situation to them. They said that mediation can take some time, so I am welcome to lodge my claim with QCAT as urgent - request to end lease due to hardship. I was told that if my claim with QCAT was successful, then I simply withdraw my mediation request with the RTA, and if I am not successful, I can continue with mediation and may end up at QCAT again if the dispute is unresolved. I didn't end up going directly to QCAT, but I haven't heard anything more from the RTA in regards to mediation.

    I did make reference to the section of the act for decreased rent, saying that I was not provided services that would reasonably be expected. I was asks to submit an offer to the owner of what I think fair compensation would be (???). My weekly rent was $230, so I asked for a reduction of $30 per week, and a refund of $30 per week of full rent already paid. The real estate agent ignored my emails for a while, and after much prompting, came back to me with a counter-offer from the owner: a discount of $10 per week on my next lease, if I agree to resign for another 6 months.

    I declined, saying that compensation should not be conditional on re-signing a lease. Also, the problem has still not been resolved, so staying at this property for another 6 months would just be more of the same issues.

    My lease ends in 10 days and I have not been sent a new lease offer OR a blank Intention to Vacate form from the agent (although my neighbour in unit 1 has received his) I called the real estate agent and she swears she posted it out to me..

    I completed a notice to vacate form and sent it off with 14 days notice, and I have signed a lease at a new property.. So I am well and truly moving on from this unit, I'm just not sure what my next step is, and if I can actually do anything about what has happened?

    All my communication with the agent was via email, so I have a paper trail of the back and forward of our issues.

    Thank you again for your help
     
  4. James D. Ford - Solicitor

    James D. Ford - Solicitor Well-Known Member

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    Hi Mkr88

    You can still pursue this matter, even after the end of the tenancy.

    Your next step is to go back to the RTA, and request a Notice of Unresolved Dispute.

    Let me know when you have this...

    Kind regards
     
  5. Mkr88

    Mkr88 Active Member

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    Thank you. I will contact the RTA.
     
  6. Mkr88

    Mkr88 Active Member

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    Hi James,

    I have FINALLY gotten a Notice of Unresolved Dispute from the RTA. It appears that they closed by case without conducting any mediation, so it was re-opened and I was sent this notice, then closed again.

    Could you give any on what I should do next? Should I apply directly to QCAT, or is that pointless as my lease has ended and my only basis for going to QCAT would be to have my lease terminated without penalty?

    Is it worth engaging legal help and pursuing this? I'm not sure if I'm being petty and I should just move on and chalk it up to a bad experience. I just feel like the whole experience was really unfair and I did suffer financially quite a bit.

    Any feedback would be much appreciated.
     
  7. James D. Ford - Solicitor

    James D. Ford - Solicitor Well-Known Member

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    Hi Melissa

    As I indicated above: "You can still pursue this matter, even after the end of the tenancy."

    Now that you have a Notice of Unresolved Dispute, you can now apply to QCAT.

    QCAT is designed so that parties can represent themselves.

    If you are unsure, a lawyer can review your application and provide you with feedback.

    Other that helping you from the sidelines, unless QCAT authorises it (after you make an application to have legal representation, providing reasons why it is needed), you cannot have legal representation at QCAT.

    Before you do so, you could consider attempting once more to negotiate a settlement with the agent... telling them that if no settlement is able to be reached, you will be applying to QCAT to resolve the matter.

    Kind regards
     
  8. Mkr88

    Mkr88 Active Member

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    Hi James,

    Thank you so much for all of your help. I guess my only question is, on what basis do I apply to QCAT? Would this still be considered a rental dispute, or now that my lease has ended should I pursue it as 'financial loss caused by a property agent'?

    I know that the actual issue would be between the property owner and the builders/developers as they sold a property that was not complete.. but I understand that as my agreement was with the real estate agency, so that is who I have to take this action against?

    I will do some research on the QCAT website, I understand that I have to represent myself, but I have no idea where to start or what to claim etc.

    Thanks
     

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