Mary Dalzielle and Natlie Paskin – 12 month tenants of an Underwood residence – notified the letting agent in February 2013 that having lost their jobs, they needed to break their lease and that their friend Alen, was prepared to take it over .
A transfer of the lease was never finalised and in March they were served with a notice to leave by Julies Realty at Sunnybank Hills. In compliance with the notice, they vacated the home leaving several weeks rent owing.
That they left the property at 23 Gunalda Street clean, in good condition and had locked it up, was not disputed.
But a week or so later, Julie was surprised to see on an inspection, people occupying the property who claimed to be Dzidic’s cousins.
Police were called and told the squatters they must vacate by 30 March.
A cleaner gave evidence that he thought the property had been broken when he discovered “people hiding in the bedrooms cupboards”.
Then the damage was discovered: an aircon unit was smashed from wall; electrical wiring had been run from the home to the garage; walls were holed; doors smashed; and the hot water system destroyed.
On behalf of the owner, Julies’ claimed a total of $11,266.34 for rent arrears and rectification.
The tenants admitted the rental arrears but asserted they should not be responsible for damage that occurred after they left .
“I myself locked the premises up and I still have the original keys,” swore Dalziel. “I never gave any permission for anyone else to live in the premises”.
Against this contention, the tribunal drew an inference that the squatters were in fact his relatives and that, it followed “such occupation was likely with the tenant’s permission”.
“On balance, having regard to the evidence given on behalf of both parties, I am reasonably satisfied that the respondents knew of the occupation of the house by others after they left”.
On that basis, Dalzielle and Paskin were held liable for the damage done and an order was made that they pay a total of $10,000 for the repairs.