Tenant justified in breaking lease – tribunal 

Law BooksThe owners of a run-down rental property have been ordered to repay bond and rent-in-advance to a tenant who broke their lease a week after signing.
 
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) ruled that the tenant was not bound by the agreement because she had not moved in – “taken possession” – and the premises were not in good repair, a situation covered under the State’s Residential Tenancies Act.
 
The decision was made despite the tenant having inspected the property, which was undergoing some repairs and being painted, and having signed an application including a clause stating that the applicant “accept the property as inspected”.
 
VCAT ruled that the clause provided the landlords with no protection because legislation said that a “tenancy agreement is invalid if it purports to exclude, restrict or modify… the exercise of a right conferred by this Act”.
 
The main problems with the property included the need for electrical repairs, repairs to doors and windows for security and the presence of asbestos.
 
RentCover Executive General Manager Sharon Fox-Slater said the case could be valuable in helping to convince landlords about the importance of undertaking repairs between tenancies.
 
“By conducting the necessary repairs and maintenance, landlords can not only avoid this type of situation but may also be able to charge more rent,” she said.