The NSW Office of Fair Trading has this week launched a free tenancy dispute service for property managers and their clients to resolve selected residential tenancy disputes.
The service, which started on Sunday, will serve as a convenient alternative to having residential tenancy matters heard by the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT).
"The dispute resolution service offered by Fair Trading is a voluntary process between any parties involved in a tenancy dispute,” the department said on its website.
“Dispute resolution is assisted by an experienced Fair Trading officer who will aim to resolve disputes through mutual agreement.
“Fair Trading will bring the parties of the dispute together either by way of teleconference or on site to resolve the dispute.
“The dispute resolution process will not result in orders that require either party to do anything or to pay any amount of money. It is also not the role of a Fair Trading officer to inspect any property to determine fault or to attribute blame.”
Fair Trading advised parties involved in a dispute to try resolve the issues themselves before seeking Fair Trading intervention.
The government body said the time frame for dispute resolution depended on the level of inquiries that it needed to make and the availability of both parties to participate in the process.
“Generally, Fair Trading endeavours to resolve a dispute within 30 days of receipt of the complaint.”
If both parties reach an agreement settlement, a Terms of Settlement will be drawn up, setting out what each party has agreed to, and signed by the parties.
However, if an agreement cannot be reached, either party can seek independent advice or lodge a claim with the CTTT.
Managing director of Focus Property Management Bernie Mitchell welcomed the new service.
“It looks like it may have the ability to streamline some mediation in a faster manner rather than a long, drawn-out CTT application and process,” he said.
“I can see that saving time and money for us and our clients.”
Department head of property management at Morton&Morton Joshua Thomas agreed.
“Anything that’s going to help people resolve disputes before it gets to the tribunal is a good thing,” he said.