A Gold Coast retail tenant has recovered compensation for wrongful termination of a lease just six weeks after commencement as a result of a landlord’s “deliberate and persistent” demands for inspections “at times and frequencies which would not be considered reasonable”.
Bruno’s Delights entered into the Johnston Street Southport lease with George Alexiadis on 15 June 2012.
By 27 July, “harassment” and “demands for rent when no rent was due” constituted, according to the QCAT review tribunal, were edging into the “persecution and intimidation” category.
Alexiadis entered the premises in the early hours of that morning, took items from the freezer and placed them in a tub of ice outside the premises for the tenant to retrieve and changed the locks. All of this was done without service any notice to remedy breach of covenant.
The landlord’s dissatisfaction apparently related to the cleanliness issues but there was no photographic evidence nor did he make any complaint to the council health department “which would appear to be the normal course of action in a case like this.”
Brunos’ claimed $21k for money throwaway in entering the lease and loss of value of fixtures, fittings – which the tenant was prevented from removing – and stock.
The tribunal was of the view that the landlord’s conduct to drive the tenant out of possession should result in compensation for the tenant. Requests for inspections although permitted on reasonable terms, must not breach a “tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment” of the leased premises.
It invoked s 43 of the Retail Shop Leases Act to require the payment of compensation for loss or damage suffered by lessee because “a lessor causes it to vacate before the end of a lease”.
The landlord was ordered to pay the total of $21k within 14 days.