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Renters have rights
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Posted 02 February 2009 - 08:14 PM
Here is a bit of advice for all fellow renters. Document everything!!!
I have just experienced the Victoria Tenancy Tribunal – A some what sort of court set up to adjudicate on civil matters, under $10,000. The judgement is legally binding so it was a bit of a serious affair.
If you are following my blogs you will be aware my family and I have undertaken a sea/ tree change. We gave notice to our previous landlord and thoroughly cleaned the house to ensure we did not jeopardise our bond. The owner inspected the property and made an exhaustive list of claims that we were supposably responsible for. The real estate agent refused to release our bond until the matter was resolved. Two months later still at a stale mate, I made a submission to the Victorian Tenancy Tribunal to have our bond returned. We WON!!! Thankfully over the term of our four year lease I had documented EVERYTHING with photos and emails, this was to be our saviour. The matter was thrown out; the grievances raised by the owner were classified as nothing more than wear and tear, that the agent had failed to follow up on. Sadly the owner was not made aware of the wear and tear, the agent failed to pass on our notifications. So when the owner came to inspect the property, nearly 4 years later, they had a different set of expectations a large part due to the failure of communication. One big lesson learnt! Document everything, I was able to show the member who heard our case, photos detailing the condition of the property when we moved in and out, copies of emails requesting repairs, photos detailing damage to the property as soon as we became aware of it, we could easily prove wear and tear.
If you are renting, make sure you let your agent / landlord know if something breaks/ or needs attention regardless of how minor. Cover yourself by keeping a copy of the notification on file as well as photos; It may well serve as your insurance policy, as it did in my case.
If you are a renter, you have rights so make sure you are getting what you have paid for. Take time to read up on your rights and appreciate your legal position. Each state has different regulations so you need to consult the appropriate government site for your state, usually listed under Fair Trading. For example most states now demand landlords fit smoke alarms.
Whilst some landlords have legitimate claims others like the one, detailed in the article titled Tenant Robert Wyner at war with landlord over water restrictions have no substance. In these situations, it is more important than ever before documentation is maintained.
There many positives from this extremely stressful situation, I am confident to take on battles that seem bigger than Ben Hur. You don’t have to accept a situation that is unfair there are avenues where you can exercise your legal right such as the administrative tribunal in your state.
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