A legal tribunal has found in favour of a tenant who refused to be bound to the terms of a tenancy agreement involving a run-down rental.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled that the Residential Tenancies Act 1999 allows a tenant to terminate their agreement if their rental property is not in “good repair”.
On 2 October 2014, the tenant, Kate Harrison, signed a tenancy agreement for a 100 year-old rental property in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury.
However, 12 days later, she claimed the premises were not in good repair, returned the keys and “refused to be bound to the terms of the tenancy agreement”, according to the tribunal.
That came five days after Ms Harrison wrote to the managing agent, Barry Plant Northcote, returning the condition report for the property.
In her letter she made countless complaints about the poor condition and state of repair of the property, in particular pointing out electrical, window and door repairs.
Ms Harrison gave notice by mail after Barry Plant Northcote said it would pass on the request for repairs to the landlord, but was not in the position to inspect the property until a later date.
“The agent also submitted tha, as the premises were old and had been inspected by the tenant more than once, and the tenant had signed the acknowledgement, the tenant was not entitled to give the notice,” the tribunal said.
The tribunal heard Ms Harrison collected the keys to the premises and arranged for electricity to be connected but did nothing else that amounted to her entering into possession of the premises before she gave the notice.
“Many of the tenant’s concerns as to the state of the premises were quite serious and related to safety and security, and a complaint as to the presence of asbestos,” according to the tribunal.
“The evidence leads the tribunal to conclude that the tenant acted out of genuine concern as to the premises, which she was keen to rent, and not that she gave the notice for some ulterior motive, as the agent suggested.”
The tribunal ruled that Ms Harrison should be repaid $5,690 – her $3,300 bond and $2,390 in advance rent. The landlord’s claim for $1,820 was dismissed.