Queensland’s Supreme Court has ruled that a Gold Coast tenant can sue his former landlords for an improper entry they made concerning his “objectionable behaviour” in 2010.
Landlords Anthony and Nancy Morand posted the entries on TICA in 2011 and 2012 because they claimed tenant Joshua Findley alerted others in their student hostel against a “carpet cleaning scam” involving the landlords “illegal” demanding charges from tenants.
He was refused on a 2014 unit rental application as a result of the tenancy database listings and immediately – and successfully – applied to QCAT to have the entries reversed.
Because QCAT has no power to award compensation, he filed his defamation proceedings in the Supreme Court, but outside the applicable 12 month limitation period.
Justice Alan Wilson ruled that because he wasn’t aware of the allegedly defamatory statements until June 2014, the “terse” Findley should be granted the statutory extension of up to 3 years because “it was not reasonable for him to have commenced action within the one-year period”.
Findley will claim – possibly before a jury – that the landlords and their company must pay damages to account for the nature of their actions, the difficulties he has and will have obtaining residential accommodation and the “possible adverse effects on use future employment”.
The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 allows for tenancy databases containing personal information about residential tenants and their conduct. The databases are plainly intended to enable agents and landlords to be alerted to problem tenants. A person can be adversely listed on a tenancy database if there is a legitimate reason including unpaid rent, amounts owing after abandonment of a tenancy, and objectionable behaviour.