A claim for rental compensation arising from an agent’s failure “to provide services as advertised and which were reasonably expected to come with the accommodation” has been dismissed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Duncan Jenner and Andrea Stewart were dissatisfied with a number of features of their Alderley rental including the air-conditioning, alarm system, blinds, a narrow stairwell (that made moving furniture difficult) and “unhygienic conditions” from rats.
The tenants had frequently made it clear to Belle Property Wilston they did not regard the property is being up to an appropriate standard. Similar complaints had been registered right from the time of the entry condition inspection.
QCAT senior member Paul Favell observed that although the first complaint about the air-conditioning unit was only made on Christmas Day 2013, it was apparent that the system had been non-operational right from the start.
But the tenants were caught by the technical requirement that any application for compensation under Residential Tenancy and Rooming Accommodation Act s 420 must be made within six months of the breach complained of.
Duncan and Andrea should therefore their have made filed their compensation application by October 2013, not more than 12 months later.
Fitness for habitation must in any event be judged against a standard of reasonableness having regard to the “age, character and locality of the residential premises”.
The nature and location of the Alderley home were such that, in judge Favell’s view – even had the tenants’ application been lodged within time – there had been no breach of the landlord’s obligation to provide premises reasonably fit for habitation by reason of occasional rat infestation that was remedied reasonably promptly by the landlord.
He noted that had the application be made under RTRAA s 94, rather than s 420, he might have been persuaded that the premises were at some stage during the term, partially unfit or the amenity or standard of the premises decreased” contrary to the landlord’s obligation to maintain the premises so that they “remain fit for the tenant to live in and in good repair”.
Despite there being some “evidence to support the contention” that the rental did not live up to the advertised claims, Judge Favell noted he did not have jurisdiction to make the orders sought and ruled that the tenants compensation application be dismissed.