A level 23 Gold Coast Penthouse with views across the broadwater to the Pacific Ocean was “unsafe and unfit to live in” entitling a tenant’s family to a rebate of 60%-80% of their $1500/week rent.

So claimed a tenant in relation to his two year lease ending November 2014 but which he ended in March.

He and his family were prevented from effectively using level 2 of the penthouse because it was equipped with a “huge Beefeater barbecue” in an interior area not protected with fire alarms or safety equipment. The pool and spa were also unusable because, the landlord failed to repair the pool pump.

Rent reductions can be ordered by the tribunal under s 94 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 if premises are completely or partly unfit to occupy or if services or facilities are no longer available or are not maintained.

QCAT can also award compensation under s 419, provided an application is made within six months after the tenant becomes aware of the circumstances relied upon.

The tenant asserted he would never have entered into the lease if he knew “the entire level 2 and its facilities were not available to be used and would become available during the tenancy”.

Shores Realty on the other hand, claimed that the compensation argument was simply a ruse to avoid payment of $21k rent arrears left owing after the family picked up and went.

Property manager, Karen Elliott, produced to the tribunal evidence of fire compliance and pool pump rectification within seven days of the problem being notified.

The tenant “had a history of raising false allegations to try and gain a rent reduction”, she claimed. “He had tried this tactic before in relation to attempting a 30% – 40% reduction on an air conditioning malfunction and $6000 for a sound system speaker glitch”.

Tribunal member Christine Trueman accepted Elliott’s version. The tenant had, she noted, produced no independent evidence of the safety or other breaches he contended.

“In fact the evidence proves that the family has enjoyed living in the penthouse and at no time had chosen to leave due to maintenance issues”, she ruled.

“Any claim for compensation and rent reduction for the spa and pool issues is completely without merit and must fail.”

Shores Realty [2014] QCAT 174 Adjudicator Trueman 28/04/2014



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