VIC What are our rights if the landlord refuses to maintain the property in "good repair"?

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gobats

Member
1 April 2020
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By way of a quick background. My partner and I rent a fully furnished apartment in Port Melbourne, VIC. On Jan 18th 2020 there was a water leak due to issues with the landlords washing machine. The apartment was dried by mid-Feb however the apartment repairs are still not completed (the entire downstairs floors have been ripped up and not replaced) and the real estate agent has told us the apartment is habitable so we need to move back in.

We have refused to move back in until the apartment is repaired hence we are being forced to live in AirBnB’s. Currently the AirBnB costs are over $13k. We have been provided $2.3k in terms of rent reduction and we have ensured we have not missed a rental payment despite what feels like a very unfair situation.

We are looking to claim not only AirBnB costs against the agent but also the costs of moving from AirBnB.

The basis of our claim for reimbursement of AirBnB costs will be of the basis of the below communication:
  1. On Jan 18th when asked if $200-250/night would be acceptable agent stated: “yes that’s fine.”
  2. On Jan 31st when asked if another AirBnB should be booked agent stated: “yes I think it’s best you do book an AirBnB”
  3. On Feb 5th when asked if another AirBnB should be booked agent stated: “I think an airBNB is best.”
  4. On Feb 7th when I stated “I would like to ensure the apartment is completely back to normal” prior to moving back in and if another AirBnB should be booked agent stated: “understand and agree. Best you go for an airBNB again”
  5. On Feb 16th when I stated “I’m going to need to book an AirBnB through until March 2nd regardless of the date it’s ready. I trust this is not going to be an issue with insurance”, agent stated: “I totally understand. You need accommodation so do what you have to as the owner will need to cover this.
  6. On Feb 25th when I stated: “the apartment needs to be returned to us close to the state in which we rented it and not with holes in the wall and concrete floors”, agent stated “Totally agree”
  7. On Feb 26th when I stated: “I really need to lock in accommodation”, agent stated “I think you need to books another weeks accommodation at the very least”
We have photos of the apartment over time, we also have SMS screenshots of the above conversations I have quoted. So far we have been out of our apartment for 75 days.

QUESTIONS:
1. What are our legal rights in terms of being able to claim compensation for the AirBnBs?
2. Who should we pursue in relation to enforcing the legal rights I assume we must have - landlord or agent (or both)?
3. How would we go about pursuing these rights I assume we must have?
4. Can anyone recommend a lawyer in Melbourne who may be able to assist us?

THANK YOU FOR ANY HELP THAT CAN BE OFFERED!
 

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Rod

Lawyer
LawTap Verified
27 May 2014
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1. Hard to know without reading the lease and reading all correspondence. Prima facie you have a very good chance.
2. Definitely the landlord, maybe the agent as well.
3. A VCAT claim is the likely method.
4. We can help. See my signature, google name and call.