QLD Long-term faulty aircon, property manager fighting against rent reduction

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by towerofpower, 24 January 2019.

  1. towerofpower

    towerofpower Member

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    I'm currently renting a townhouse in QLD and the ducted air conditioner has never worked properly, and I'd like to seek a rent reduction for the time it's been faulty. The property manager and owner have been notified but refuse to discuss a rent reduction until the issue has been resolved, which doesn't look like it will be fixed for some time.

    The issue is that it doesn't work when it's hot outside, it just blows hot air. The issue has been present for over a year now, and shows no sign of being resolved soon. I've issued them with a Notice to Remedy Breach, and then the RTA Dispute Resolution service got involved but the property manager & owner refused to attend mediation, so I've got my pass to go to QCAT but I'm unsure about what evidence I will need to provide and how to argue the point.

    Technicians from an aircon company have visited about many times over the last 18 months and said "that's not working right", and have tried different things to fix it that haven't worked. They've replaced many different components, sometimes replaced them twice, but the issue remains.

    It was faulty all of last summer (2017-2018) but repairs continued through until it wasn't hot anymore and I didn't need the aircon, so the issue was ignored during the winter. When the weather got hot again (around October 2018) and I tried to use the aircon, the issue returned and the property manager was immediately notified. It's now been over 3 months since the issue was reported this time around, and the property manager and owner are refusing to discuss anything about the issue.

    I've been keeping copies of all of the communications and a running journal of what happened on what date.

    Any thoughts? Would this be QCAT-worthy? If so, on what grounds should the point be argued and what evidence should be provided?
     
  2. Rob Legat - SBPL

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    You might find the air conditioning itself is not faulty, but rather insufficient. I have the same problem in my house and had a technician out a few years back who advised me that the unit is insufficient to cope with the heat and the size of the area to be cooled. Effectively I would need to install a commercial size air conditioner. If that's a similar situation to you, then you won't get far with arguing the air conditioning doesn't work - it does, it's just not strong enough.

    What may work for you is to demonstrate that working air conditioning was a fundamental factor in your selection of the property, and the rent payable. Very believable in Queensland. If the rent you are paying is comparable to other similar properties without air conditioning, this will count against you. Being in a townhouse, there are hopefully similar rentals around you to compare. Alternatively, if you can establish that working air conditioning was of significant importance in your selection of the property, that the agent knew it (or at least it was an important part of their promotion of the property), and that you would not have chosen the property had you known of the situation, you might be able to get yourself out of the lease or at least some level of compensation by rent reduction.
     
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  3. towerofpower

    towerofpower Member

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    In regards to the aircon being the wrong size, the technicians that've been out have dismissed that possibility when I asked them. It doesn't appear to be that it's not cooling hard enough, it seems like it's not cooling at all.

    Having an AC was indeed a fundamental factor in choosing the property, I'll have to keep that in mind, thanks for the tip. A couple of months ago I looked around to compare similar sized properties that didn't have aircon and they were about $30-$50/week cheaper than my townhouse. I'll have another look to see what's comparable now.

    We did mention to the agent that having AC was an important factor, but I wouldn't say that I highlighted the fact. They've taken down the ad for the property, but it did list ducted aircon as a feature of the house. I would need a copy of the rental ad to prove it, wouldn't I?
     
  4. Rob Legat - SBPL

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    It would be best, but for obvious reasons may not be possible. It's QCAT, so they're not necessarily bound by the rules of evidence though. State that it was, but that you don't have a copy of the ad. The agent should be requested to produce (if they don't as a matter of course). I'd also look for other ads by the same real estate which make mention of air conditioning (ducted or otherwise). Failing that, ads from other real estates so that you can at least make the argument that promoting air conditioning is a common thing in rental advertisements.
     
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  5. towerofpower

    towerofpower Member

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    Getting other ads from them where they've advertised air conditioning to set a precedence, that's a good idea.

    What about the grounds by which I'm making the claim? Is it enough to say that I'm making the claim on the grounds that all inclusions on the property must be kept in a serviceable condition, or made serviceable within a reasonable amount of time?
     
  6. Rob Legat - SBPL

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    I think you may have a problem with that - unless you have an expert willing to give evidence that the air conditioning is in disrepair.

    The lessor has to ensure the premises are clean, fit to live in, and in good repair. There's nothing about the standard required so long as they meet that criteria.

    Although not directly relevant (but indicative), the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld) provides that prescribed minimum standards may be made for housing. Section 17A sets out a non-exhaustive list of the types of standards. While the list includes "ventilation and insulation" it doesn't specifically include air-conditioning.

    I think you'd be better placed arguing that you were represented there was working air-conditioning, you relied on that representation, and it hasn't been delivered.
     
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