A Highgate Hill tenant has succeeded in a rent compensation claim because of the “unbearable odour” from the carcasses of rotting rats.

Carol and Darren McIntyre loved their rental and were gratified managing agent First National Metro, promptly engaged an exterminator when they notified of the original infestation.

Rat infestation not welcomeBut owner Elizabeth Warren was so slow of the mark in dealing with the “putrid smell”, that the home became – as notified by them to the agent – “unlivable”.

Neither First National nor Warren answered requests to turn up to experience the stench for themselves.

Two weeks after the first complaint, they sent “Peter the Possum” to investigate. PTP certified the premises were by then clear of rat stink.

In the meantime, the McIntyres had given a notice to remedy breach on which no action was taken. They then gave a notice of intention to leave and sued the landlord for compensation.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) dismissed Warren’s contentions that the stench had not been a health and safety risk requiring prompt action.

It also ruled that evidence from Peter the Possum, Warren herself and the new tenants that there the home was free and clear of nasty smells – given that it was all based on inspections weeks later – was irrelevant and inadmissible.

Compensation equivalent to two weeks rent, $2.5k, was ordered in the McIntyre’s favour.

Warren’s complaint that such allowance was excessive – because the McIntyres only continued in occupation for a few days – was also dismissed.

“Whether or not Mr and Mrs McIntyre actually left their home is not the test”. The house was unliveable for some time and hence the allowance of compensation on that basis.

Notwithstanding that the landlord had otherwise been diligent as regards other requests for maintenance, tribunal member Jane Stilgoe ruled that “critically, she did not respond to this issue satisfactorily”.

Warren v McIntyre [2015] QCATA 026 Senior Member Stilgoe OAM 23/02/2015


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