Landlord foots $14K bill, shouts tenant $900 doona cover

Here’s a reminder on how rental properties can prove expensive – courtesy of an unlucky New South Wales landlord.
It ended up costing the landlord almost $14,000 compensation – even though the property owner wasn’t the cause of the problems in question.

The landlord was ordered to pay the compensation to a Point Piper tenant, Brett Marsh. It included  almost $900 for a doona cover and $1000 for a set of sheets!

Problem number one – noisy neighbours partying upstairs

The Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal ordered compensation to the tenant equivalent to 15 per cent of his rent because of the party noise.

The landlord had written to the neighbours insisting they put in floor coverings – as required by the Owners Corporation – but the tribunal decided this did not constitute taking “all reasonable steps” to ensure peace and quiet.
The ruling, in November, did not specify further actions the landlord should have taken.

The landlord tried to argue that provisions in the lease applying to quiet enjoyment did not apply to apartments, an approach the tribunal rejected.

Problem number two – a burst pipe

The same tenant returned from an overseas trip to find his bed soaking wet and smelling mouldy because a water pipe had burst upstairs. The pipe was part of the common property of the apartments.  

The tribunal noted the landlord “dealt responsibly” with the Owners Corporation in attempts to rectify the damage, which left the master bedroom and en suite unusable on-and-off between February and June.

However, the tribunal found that the landlord’s duty to keep the premises in a “reasonable state of repair” applied even though the problem was caused by pipes he did not have the right to fix, and despite him wanting to transfer liability to the Owners Corporation.

The tribunal ordered compensation equivalent to 20 per cent of the rent for loss of use of the master bedroom and en suite – $3,690.

The tenant asked for more than $9000 to replace the water-damaged king size bed ensemble, but the tribunal discounted the figure to allow for the age of the previous bed and the fact that less expensive beds were available. It awarded $3,920.

The tribunal also ordered more than $3,000 extra compensation for damaged bedding, based on a David Jones quotation for top-end linen:  a $530 doona, $900 doona cover, $400 electric blanket, $160 mattress protector and $1066 sheets.

A small victory for the landlord – the tribunal refused to compensate the tenant for the cost of flying back to Australia from overseas for the two hearings in the case.