Just six weeks after the start of a Morooka tenancy in June 2013, police executed a search warrant to investigate “unlawful use of the premises”.

Presumably having formed a “reasonable belief” that the home had  in fact been used  for an illegal purpose, the landlords served a notice to remedy breach, relying also on the tenant’s failure to return the entry condition report, a smashed window and damage to window blinds.

Two days after the expiration of the breach notice, a Notice to Leave was served via post requiring the tenant’s to vacate the premises on 5 September.

In compliance with the notice, the tenant departed well before its expiration date, leaving the keys with the owners’ RE/MAX agent.

It took landlords Lisa and Stephen Castieau seven weeks to get the premises cleaned up and new tenants installed and then only at $10 less per week than their predecessor had been willing to pay.

They applied to QCAT for payment to them of the bond of $1.5k, plus additional sums for the cost of cleaning and repairs and for loss of rent “until the expiration of the lease” and the re-letting the property, a total of $4.5k.

Tribunal member Paul Favell examined the provisions of the general tenancy agreement and the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act.

While the landlords were clearly entitled to the cost of repairs and cleaning, there was no justification in member Favell’s view, for the award of lost rent etc after a tenancy had been duly ended under a notice to leave procedure.

Given the provisions of RTRAA s 277 – which specify a tenancy is ended on the expiration of the notice – a landlord would need to point to a contract term that would create such an obligation on the tenant.

He noted that the only tenant obligations in the tenancy agreement enduring after the end of occupation were to return the premises to their pre-tenancy state and to pay the cost of cleaning and if appropriate, for pest treatment.

Member Favell also disallowed the claim for the cost of changing locks. “No reason has been established for that expense since it is submitted that the keys were returned as required under the agreement.”

The landlords were successful to this extent of $774 with $705 being refunded to the outgoing tenant.

Castieau v Gubecka [2013] QCAT 644 Member Favell 21/11/2013


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