In what social media circles are calling an “unbelievable” series of events, a landlord is being investigated by police in Victoria after she allegedly broke into the rental property she leased and let the tenant's pets out of the backyard.
According to Kirk Stafford, property department manager at Buxton Real Estate in Albert Park Melbourne, the tenant had received a verbal agreement for her two pet Golden Retriever dogs to live at the property, but only after the application was approved.
“Once the landlord and I were aware of the possibility of animals on the property, I went through the appropriate channels and got first verbal and then written approval from the landlord,” he told Residential Property Manager.
However, last month, without informing the tenant or property manager, the landlord attended the property to supervise a hot water service replacement and found the animals in the backyard. According to Mr Stafford, the landlord became irate and demanded a 14-day Notice of Breach be served to the tenant.
Yet, 12 days later, the landlord allegedly broke into the rental property by enlisting the help of a locksmith, said Mr Stafford.
“The owner attended the property at 9:30am without telling any party she was doing so. I actually spoke to her the day before and no mention was made of her intention. However, she did ask for copies of the full tenant file to be sent to her,” Mr Stafford explains.
“She first climbed over a 2.4 metre-high back fence by using the garbage bin as a ladder – the neighbour came out and asked her what she was doing and she said she was a friend of the tenant and was feeding the dogs.”
According to Mr Stafford, it was at this point she opened the back gate allowing the two dogs onto the street.
“Then she rang a locksmith, saying she was the tenant and had locked herself out,” Mr Stafford continued.
“When the locksmith wanted payment, she got him to drive her to the closest ATM to withdraw the cash to pay him and walked back to the property. He forgot to take a small tool with him, and realising this, returned to the house, where he found nobody home. He left his card with the neighbour who had been chatting to the owner while she was waiting for the locksmith earlier.”
It is here the story takes an ugly twist, according to Mr Stafford.
“After returning to the house, the owner went to the tenant's fridge, pulled out a bottle of the tenant's wine and drank a fair proportion of it. The landlord went through the bathroom, took some of the tenant’s cosmetics, and apparently placed the locksmith’s tool in the toaster, which the tenant found when the locksmith returned that night to re-key the doors at no expense,” he said.
“The tenant found out what had happened when, after getting a call from St Kilda Animal Management, she went home to get the registration papers for the dogs and found the rear French doors open and called the police.”
Since the incident on Wednesday 19 June, Mr Stafford has sacked the owner, a Notice of Breach to the owner and a compensation claim are underway. The police are investigating and the tenant has vacated the property.
“Never in my almost 30 years in the industry have I seen anybody overstep the line this far,” Mr Stafford said.
“After I had received the call from the police informing me what had happened, I was just in complete shock that somebody could put themselves and their tenant in such a dangerous situation. We were lucky this wasn’t worse,” he said.
“It is the poor tenant I feel most sorry for – she is really shaken by the whole occurrence and now I am trying to call in all my favours to get her back into a property.
“I have to say, the assistance I have had within the community after I explained the circumstance, has been incredible,” he continued.
“We are in a competitive industry, but when things aren’t right our humanist nature comes out.”
According to Mr Stafford, there was little chance anyone could have prevented this from happening or foreseen the series of events that unravelled.
“I don’t see how this could have been avoided,” he said.
“It is right outside anybody's expectations of poor behaviour.”