Brisbane landlords

When tenancy disputes go to Tribunal: One landlord pays $24,000

It’s one of those scenarios landlords prefer not to think about, and tenants hope they’ll never have to attend. Fronting up before an adjudicator for your day at QCAT (Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal), the final forum for resolving tenancy disputes in Queensland.

Keep in mind the RTA says 76% of disputes that go through their conciliation process get sorted. And we’d have to say one reason is landlords and their agents don’t see value in the time it takes to proceed to QCAT, including long delays in getting a hearing. The government’s working on that, recently giving some Justices of the Peace the responsibility of sitting behind the bench.

In replacing the old Small Claims Tribunal in 2009, QCAT’s charter included the public recording of its decisions, providing all of us with a guide to likely outcomes. Like the SCT before it, we have seen some interesting decisions being made, and this latest change with JP’s may continue that trend.

But hopefully a growing list of recorded QCAT decisions will give all sides greater clarity on what can often be a grey piece of legislation. For those of you craving some juicy legal argument, your fix of “Law and Order” or, sometimes more accurately, “Judge Judy”, here’s the link to decisions on residential tenancy disputes at QCAT

Landlords might like to find the one from November 2012 where a landlord was ordered to pay $24,419 to their tenants. This is the story of a Highgate Hill house, in poor but acceptable condition when leased. The QCAT records state: “As time progressed, due to the failure of the owners to respond to the tenants’ complaints or to carry out obvious preventative maintenance, the house deteriorated badly until it became unfit to live in.”

This is one of those rare horror stories and not a “typical” rental tenancy or QCAT hearing. But there’s a number of issues canvassed in this decision that will help all landlords and agents. Our property management team ‘workshopped’ this case study at the recent REIQ Conference.

Is your property manager on top of the legislation – and the way it’s interpreted by the Tribunal?