The best way to succeed at tribunal hearings might be to do everything possible to avoid them in the first place.
Qura Property director Samantha Gatherum-Goss said property managers should plan for worst-case scenarios and keep notes of all conversations, text messages, emails and letters.
“Even if it’s a fantastic tenant, anything could change in an instant, so you want to make sure you’ve got everything written down with times and dates,” Ms Gatherum-Goss told Residential Property Manager.
“It is likely most of these notes won’t be needed at a tribunal hearing, but it’s always best to over-prepare.”
Ms Gatherum-Goss said paper trails are also a way to avoid tribunal hearings in the first place, as they can be presented to tenants should an issue arise.
However, should the issue go to the tribunal, it’s important for property managers to arrive with a thorough set of documents rather than just the summary of proofs, she said.
“I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been saved by bringing the whole file and my laptop, so that if I miss an important photograph or a photo is hard to make out, or I didn’t insert something that I felt was irrelevant, I can bring it up for the member and tenant to see.”
Ms Gatherum-Goss also highlighted the importance of remaining calm so emotion doesn’t override reason.
“I also still see a few PMs interrupting tenants to point out they’re lying; don’t do it. Wait until you’ve been asked to speak to rebut any comments the tenant has made if you feel it is warranted.”
Ms Gatherum-Goss said good preparation also contributes to a successful tribunal result: “Make sure you have the facts, know the legislation and, if it helps, rehearse the arguments you’re going to make.”
[Related: How smooth is your tribunal process]