Being taken to tribunal by unreasonable owner

Thanks for opening this thread, I am a new-to-Australia (Canadian) tenant and I fear I am being railroaded by a seasoned home owner. Long story short:
We moved into a lovely home, signed a 6 m lease. At the end of lease we decided not to renew a 6 m lease and asked for a 4 m lease instead. Owner got angry, said she was counting on us and as such she would raise the rent and gave us 60 notice to vacate. 60 days did not suit us (kids in school) and we replied with a 30 day vacancy. All good. Had a property inspection done by PM, all good except a few scratches on door, batteries needed in a fire alarm. PM and owner get into a fight about whether PM is thorough enough at inspections, owner gives one week notice to view again and comes over to find leaves on veranda, felt marker line on kitchen bench, cobwebs in various areas, and gives a 'breach' and says she will be back in one week. PM sits with us after owner leaves and we all talk about how unreasonable owner is being. One week later owner comes back (with us and PM present) goes through house and says it is not good enough and gives 7 day eviction notice. May I say here that we have cleaned the house thoroughly and it looks great to us and to PM. 7 days notice ends after our previous 30 day vacancy notification, but owner still wants to have eviction on record. Now comes the 4th inspection in 4 weeks and we have cleaned, scrubbed, washed, vacuumed, gardened, repainted one wall, and the house looks great to us. My husband attends the final inspection but is thrown out of house and cursed at by the owner, and we are not able to get photos of the house at move out. Owner not satisfied and instructs PM that she wants us to pay for 50% of property refurbishment. Our responses:
1. Paint garage walls: this is wear and tear to a garage, in which there is a work bench and no restrictions to actual work being performed. The areas of wear and tear are to 5% of walls and may require a touch up rather than a complete paint job. We agree to 20% of cost.
2. Porters lime wash to small wall in kitchen: We agree to 50% of cost due to small oil spray from cooking.
3. Porters lime wast to large wall in dining room: No damage done to wall. Photos taken upon vacancy are done in extreme close up and cannot be compared to photos on move in. We will not contribute.
4. Sand and paint timber counter top: This counter was heavily worn on move in with the varnish being worn to the wood along kitchen side and on edges. Our wear and tear to this counter is a 2-3cm marker line and does not require counter to be redone on our account. We agree to 20% of cost.
5. Replace 5 door magnets to kitchen doors: This is wear and tear, we will agree to 25% of cost.
6. Bathroom walls: Water marks are wear and tear, we do not agree to repainting walls.
7. Resand and varnish pine floors: As this floor is pine it is a delicate flooring that is not well wearing in a rental house. The move in pics were taken at a distance whilst the final pics are taken at extreme close up and are not comparable. The flooring was revarnished 3 years ago and showed wear and tear prior to our 6 m tenancy. We will agree to 20% of cost.
8. Cleaning: We dispute that a further 10 hours of cleaning are necessary. We will contribute 3 hrs.
9. Window cleaning: All windows/screens were vacuumed and cleaned. We will agree to 50% of recleaning.

The owner then filed a claim at the tribunal wanting us to pay the full price of all refurbishments and we are off to court. My main questions are:
1. The property report says the house was in excellent condition and we agreed, but we were not aware of how detailed the owner would be on move out and we should have counted nail holes, floor scratches, door scuffs but we didn't. We feel the house is still in excellent condition but does have wear and tear.
2. We couldn't get final pics because my husband was asked to leave the property when he began to argue with the owner about things such as the kitchen counter and stray weeds. As such we have to rely on pics the PM took (which are all done in owners favor with tiny marks in extreme close-up). Will the court look at this as an infringement on our ability to defend ourselves?
3. I am not very well spoken and the pics seems to be in favour of the owner. How does court determine fair wear and tear? Can the owner ask for more than the bond (ours is 2400) as they want us to pay for all repainting, redoing the hard wood, replacing kitchen counter etc?

I am really really nervous and am being bullied by this owner. The PM WAS on our side but I fear she is also being bullied by this owner as I have requested a letter stating her opinion on the situation but she has not followed through with her promise to do so.
Any answers to my 'long story short'?
I had a tenant put a cigarette burn mark in a bathroom vanity that was only 12 months old. I got back a % of the value of it, NOT the full price.

I really dont think you are required to pay for the complete refurbishment as sounds like it wasn't done imediately prior to you moving in.

I would go see the PM in person, maybe they would be glad to get this particular person off their books.

I'd strongly suggest you contact a renters advocacy service in your state for advice.

Good luck
The PM WAS on our side but I fear she is also being bullied by this owner as I have requested a letter stating her opinion on the situation but she has not followed through with her promise to do so.
Any answers ...?

Sounds on the face of it that you have a fastidious LL. Bear in mind 2 things:
1. The PM is legally (contracturally) obligated to represent the LL NOT you. The PM is not your friend. There is no letter coming - unless the PM is incredibly stupid.
2. The tribunal is usually slanted toward the tenant. Fair wear & tear is perfectly acceptable. You are not obliged to hand the property back in exactly the same or better condition that you leased it.
If all is as you say it is, then I think you have been more than reasonable. On the sounds of it, I would presume that the damage was all wear & tear and you should not be liable for anything. Let them take you to tribunal. Probably too late for you this time, as you have agreed to pay for some of those requests, but you can apply for the return of your bond yourself.

The tribunal is usually slanted toward the tenant. Fair wear & tear is perfectly acceptable. You are not obliged to hand the property back in exactly the same or better condition that you leased it.

Wow, did you hear that? My heart rate has gone from racing to trotting- with your advice.

Could anyone give a quick synopsis of how the 'trial' will go? Should I bring 'witnesses' (as in the ladies who helped me with house cleaning and the painter who disputes the wall stains)? Will I be required to argue with the LL about points she is making? Does it matter that the LL was the first to apply to the tribunal?
Thanks :)
i dont know how the tribunal works in WA but i am sure it is as others have said above... the tribunal is generally slated towards the tenants rather than the landlord.

If your account of the situation is true and correct then i highly doubt the tribunal will award the owner ANY $$. I would retract any offer you have made to contribute towards the cost.

As said above also.. unfortunately the agent works for the landlord. As a PM even tho i may agree with a tenant verbally there is no way i would ever put that in writing. If your PM agrees with you, then when presenting the case she/he wont push it very hard. If the owners goes to the hearing as well then that is in your best interests.... EVERY time an owner goes to the tribunal they will shoot themselves in the foot and by the sounds of your landlord they sound very unreasonable and the tribunal does not look to kindly upon that. You will simply need to detail the measures you have already taken, the rest will be deemed fair ware and tear. My biggest peice of advice during the hearing is.... do not speak unless spoken to. As much as it will pain you to hear what the owner is accusing you of, do not interject, just wait your turn to be heard. I think when you give your account the owner will interject and again this will not be looked upon favourably.

Quite frankly i think you being taken to the tribunal will be in your best interests. Do not negotiate anymore with this owner, take it all the way and you will come off on top.

good luck and keep us posted!
Hopefully, you should have copies of all entry, periodic inspections, and exit reports that the PM is obliged to do.

From what I am lead to believe regarding your story, is that the PM actually agrees with you, but he is getting paid for (therefore works for) the landlord.

The information identified on these reports should put you in good stead, considering you have said that the PM thought it was clean, tidy, spotless, so would assume that this is identified.

These reports would be beneficial for you to have at the small claims tribunal.

As NotAllPMsRBAD! said, keep us posted.


mattandshery In my experience of the rental tribunal in WA, if both parties have been reasonable and have a realistic view of what a rental should be like then issues never go to the tribunal (ie. issues are negotiated on and an agreement reached).
The cases I have seen personally its either the tenant hasn't done the right thing or the landlord is unrealistic and trying to squeeze every last dollar out of the tenant.
Its hard to comment on you're particular case without being directly involved but by the sounds of it I wouldn't lose sleep over it.
I agree with what NotAllPMsRBAD! has said in the post above.
Do your research and be prepared, this is a good start
You can download and read the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (the Act) if you can sort through the legal speak it has all the info you need, for tenants and landlords ;)
The results are in...

:eek::confused:We went to court and lost fantastically. I am devastated. The judge did not care to see any of my references or property inspection reports. The decision was made upon the exit photos of the texter marks on the wood floors which I tried to argue were wear n tear, also the wall marks, kitchen grease spots and garage wall marks are not considered wear n tear. The judge gave me a stern talk when I tried to put my case across as 'reasonable, non-malicious, non-intentional wear n tear' about how the pictures proved the owners case, that to come back to court with tradespeople etc to testify I would be paying everyone's wages by the hour (trades people, owner, PM) and told us to go into the conference room to 'negotiate' a price. In the conference room it was me vs PM (now on owners side), the owner and owner's husband, all of whom were not budging or negotiating, telling me to take their 'offer' of me paying 100% of their demands or we would go back into court and have to rebook a date and my costs could be $10,000 and I would still lose. The judge was was waiting, the owner was threatening to leave because I was being 'arguementative and hostile', the PM was clearly not helping me out despite all of her condolenses in the past few months, and I folded under the pressure and agreed to the terms. We went back into court where it was wrapped up in 2 minutes and here I am, losing my whole deposit plus owing them 2000 more. I am so depressed. I am so angry too because EVERYONE I consulted with about this directed me to court, told me that wear and tear would cover the damages, and I read other LL and tenant stories and it seems I have lost unfairly. But I think there is no appeal process, and I am stuck with a decision I had to make under pressure. Any advice? :(:(
... exit photos of the texter marks on the wood floors which I tried to argue were wear n tear,
texter marks are not "wear & tear". This is the first time you mentioned texter marks

the PM was clearly not helping me out despite all of her condolenses in the past few months,
Told you that the PM is contracturally obligated to represent the LL - she is not your friend.

Any advice?
Buy your own house and never worry about another inspection or a tribunal again.

Sorry this happened to you but ....move on.
As Propertunity said, texta is NOT wear & tear, you need to take control of your children. Kitchen grease is also not wear & tear. If it is cleaned up promptly then you don't get grease marks.

Neither of these two points were mentioned in your first post.

The PM is working for the landlord (that is the person who pays their wages) so I would not be expecting any help in this matter from them.
truthfully, your first post appears completely at odds with your last post. People here can only give advice based on what YOU tell them.

Having worked as a tenant advocate, I can tell you that the tribunnal process is usually more then fair in regards to tenants rights. And truthfully, from what you have described happened at tribunnal, you really don't seem to understand that a tenant has rights, but they also have olbigations as well.

Texta marks are most definitely NOT wear and tear.

My advice is for you to take on board what the "judge" (they are not a judge at tribunnal, btw) said, and actually learn what your obligations as a tenant are, because otherwise you are going to find it very hard to find a LL willing to take you on. Would you treat a hotel room the way you treated that house? The house belongs to the LL not yourself and should be treated with respect.

Alternatively, do as Prop suggested and buy your own home, then you can do whatever you want to it.
Thanks for the opinions posters, you have been more help than I have found elsewhere! In my first post I DID mention texters (which I called felt pen), I also mentioned kitchen grease spots. In so far as the PM being my friend, she acted in this manner and did say she would write a letter stating the owners zealous manner, and did in fact give me a reference for the house we are in now. We will move on and I leave this wishful letter to the owner:
PLEASE, take all of my money. You obviously need it more than I do. Perhaps you can use it for counselling. I consider myself one of the lucky ones, to be able to buy my way out of your life.
felt marker line on kitchen bench,.

Long time lurker first time poster - Not sure if we are trying to make ourselves feel better over the numerous reassurances that OP would likely be okay, but they definately noted the marker on the bench in the first post.

They also noted some grease on the wall in the original post.

2. Porters lime wash to small wall in kitchen: We agree to 50% of cost due to small oil spray from cooking.

No need to make the OP feel even worse by accusing them of not telling the whole story gang.

To the OP, I'm feeling your pain - for your former LL - one word.. Karma.
All I can say is I want this member to adjudicate some of our vacancies.

We are normally lucky to get the bond (if there is any left) let alone additional funds on top, and this is with photos on top of photos.

'Mas' you would have been better of using an extra day whilst the house was empty and actually fix up some of the problems that you agreed some responsibility.

As already mentioned texta is not wear and tear and may well have been able to be removed at the time the mark was made using metho - act early and appropriately.

As an owner I always look for longer term tenants as the same problems occur whether the tenant has been in place 6 month or 6 years. At least if a tenant is there 6 years you can accept that the property in a lesser condition then when you walked out 6 years ago. Its a different matter when the memory is only 6 months old.

Does sound like the landlord is in the wrong from many things you have said, although there are some things that you have mentioned that do fall back on you.

Although, why have you negotiated with the landlord, prior to tribunal..?

As you have already agreed to some costs, you may have dug yourself a hole, and tribunal may lean towards the landlord, although as some have stated, usually they will help the tennant.

Just be honest and keep your cool, and make sure your story is in order and honest.
Sounds like you have been done over, take it as a bad experience but one you can learn from and move on most rentals are not like this.

I rented for a long time and when i moved into a place I would always get the property report and make notes on every line. Oven was always dirty, walls were always marked no matter how small the mark i wrote it down. Even counted numbers of pin holes in walls and wrote it down for each wall. impression marks in carpet, marks on the wall behind fridge, dirty windows, chipped window frames, no item was to small to write down etc etc etc etc.

One persons clean is another persons messy so i took the extreme view. If any stuff was left outside by owners i would note it on the inspection report so I didnt have to cart it away at the end.

The only time i ever got called back to a house was when I racked all the leaves in the back yard into the garden bed for mulch and was asked to remove them, seemed ridiculouse but given everything else I had written down i guess they had nothing else to pick on. It took me five minutes to put them in the wheelie bin.