26 September 2023

Commissioner busy treating rental illness

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The Commissioner for Consumer Protection has reported that the number of conciliated disputes between tenants and landlords so far this year is double the number recorded over the same period in 2020.

The Commissioner, Gary Newcombe said tenants and landlords did not always see eye-to-eye over what constituted ‘fair wear and tear’ and bond disputes had been one of the major issues Consumer Protection had been handling since the rent moratorium ended in March.

“We have conciliated 206 disputes so far this year; that’s double the number in the same period of 2020,” Mr Newcombe said.

“Given all bond money is required to be lodged with the Bond Administrator, tenants should know that landlords have no right to keep any amount paid as a security bond unless agreed by the tenant or stipulated in a court order.”

He said when it came to cleaning and fixing damage, landlords were able to charge a tenant only for the actual costs incurred and were not allowed to charge for a pre-estimated cost.

“When tenants and landlords can’t agree, the property condition report (PCR) is relied upon to determine what damage, if any, occurred during the tenancy,” Mr Newcombe said.

“For instance, if a hole in the wall is noted at the end of the tenancy, but the damage wasn’t included in the PCR at the beginning, then the tenant may struggle to prove they were not responsible.”

The Commissioner said that was why it was in the tenant’s best interests to ensure the PCR was accurate at the start of the lease and for both parties to make sure the report was completed and signed.

“It is also recommended that tenants take photos of the property when they move in and include those photos with the PCR,” he said.

“A PCR should also be completed within 14 days of the end of a tenancy,” Mr Newcombe said.

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