In the courts

Below, we take a look at some of the more interesting tenancy disputes of recent months.
 
SA: Nightmare neighbours, terrible tenants
Tenants who vandalised their landlord’s car air conditioning system with fish bait, sent abusive text messages, terrorised neighbours and damaged property were the subject of an immediate eviction notice issued by the South Australian Residential Tenancies Tribunal.
 
One neighbour, a newly-arrived migrant, testified the tenants had attempted to assault him on Christmas Day 2013 as he and his family cowered in their car. His five-year-old was traumatised as a result.
 
The tenants had also allegedly interfered with the family’s power supply, strewn condoms on the family’s car and played loud music in the small hours of the morning. 
 
NSW: Landlord takes agency to tribunal
A landlord has failed in a bid to recoup a year’s worth of management fees for her Pottsville property after discovering an unauthorised dog when she’d only given permission for a cat. The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found there had been a mistake with a lease – which mentioned a cat in one place and a dog in another – but that did not mean the property manager was in breach of the management agreement or negligent for the entire tenancy.
 
A claim for lost rent between tenancies was also denied because the owner’s decision to evict the dog-loving tenant created the vacancy.
 
However the tribunal agreed that a poorly-performed paint repair job should not have been counted as fair wear and tear, and ordered the agency to compensate the owner for repainting.
 
VIC: Unfit for human habitation
The lack of a fire wall between two units in a house did not make them unfit for human habitation, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has found.
 
A landlord failed in a bid to evict a longstanding tenant from one of the units after council described the lack of fire separation as being a danger to human life.
 
The tribunal found that a property had to be “dangerous when in ordinary use” to be “unfit for human habitation” – and concluded that a fire was not an “ordinary use”.
 
QLD:  Tribunal backs PM
A tenant evicted from a $1500-a-week Gold Coast penthouse has failed in efforts to claim almost $77,000 compensation for alleged shortcomings in the property which he claimed had rendered it unfit to live in.
 
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal found the tenant was “not entirely truthful”, presented no evidence, and made an outrageously over-estimated claim.
 
The property manager provided evidence to show that fire alarms were satisfactory and inspected, and that maintenance had been performed promptly – leading the tribunal to conclude the property had been “professionally and properly managed”