A NSW property manager has won her case against a disgruntled tenant who took her to tribunal over mould-related issues.
Ellen Bathgate from the Rental Experts was taken to the NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) by a tenant who attempted to claim $21,000 from her and the landlord.
The tenant moved into a property in March, but after one month, they made a complaint about mould in the bathroom.
Ms Bathgate arranged to get a quote for an exhaust fan in the bathroom but a month later, the tenant made another complaint, reporting that there was mould in the hallway.
Within eight days, the property manager had a professional mould removal company clean up the mould and a full report was completed.
The tenant sought to cancel the lease in June, claiming the landlord was in breach of their responsibilities under the lease.
“I said to the landlord we can fight them over the termination or we can put out efforts into finding a new tenant.
“We decided to just release them from their lease and put out efforts into finding a new tenant instead.”
However, the tenant took further action against Ms Bathgate and her client by claiming $21,000 worth of damages in lost furniture, lost wages, moving costs and even $13,000 for the personal stress brought by the mould issue.
The case was heard at the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal last Thursday but dismissed after an hour due to the tenant’s lack of evidence.
On the other hand, Ms Bathgate was able to provide photographic evidence of the tenant’s furniture, which he had claimed had been affected by mould after he had dumped it on the property.
“Once I had done the final inspection with the tenant, the tenant drove away and I stood and inspected the furniture and took photos of the furniture and there was no mould,” she said.
“There was no doubt that there had been mould in the house but there was no mould on the furniture.”
Ms Bathgate said she had worked hard to provide a strong case by including bound documents with a timeline of events during the tenancy, a response to the tenant’s application and all email correspondence with the tenant.
The landlord also accompanied Ms Bathgate to the hearing to provide further evidence if required.
“In this case, the landlord had lived in the property once before and I got her to do up a statutory declaration stating that she had lived in the property for 18 months and during that time, mould wasn’t an issue on the property.”
Ms Bathgate said she treated every tenancy and every situation as though it was going to go to the tribunal.
“When I’m talking to my landlord and when I’m giving advice I always say ‘if this matter went to tribunal this is probably the outcome that you would get’.
“I always prepare for the worst.”