Help - Tenant in Need

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by Hneedshelp, 25th Jan, 2012.

  1. Hneedshelp

    Hneedshelp Member

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    Hello, I am hoping you can help me. Its a very long and drawn out situation I am dealing with here and I am at a point where I cant handle it anymore! nearly 3 months ago i (luckily) woke up to my heater, pillow, carpet on fire, from putting the fire out I received 2nd degree burns to my feet and hands and nose and bad smoke inhalation - was in the trauma unit for a week then home care was arranged for me until I could pretty much walk again.

    Anyway my story gets very tricky, three days before the fire one of my co-tenants (who we had been suffering extreme grief from - the typical nightmare housemate) thankfully gave us 28 days notice and the night before the fire I put an ad up on some housemate websites.

    While I was in hosp my parents had taken photos of the damage, emailed the agent to notify him and asked him to inform them of assessment of damage/repairs etc so they could clear the room. When I got out of hosp I called the agent to organize an inspection - he wasn't available for another week - which he then cancelled when I called him to see why he was running late. In my first convo with him he told me it was all going thru insurance. When he did actually inspect the damage he told my mother and myself that the landlord had contacted insurance and it was all underway.

    Another 2 weeks go by and no one returns my calls and I don't know when repairs are happening and I am having to turn away potential housemates due to the condition of the house, the soot everywhere and the fact that I was forced to sleep in the lounge room. I call the agent and ask for a rent reduction until repairs are done - he says no - he said its insurance fault and these things take time. I then tell him I am going to take it further and then he suddenly calls me back that night and tells me the insurance company just contacted him and everything has been approved, he will book tradies and call me back with details that Friday... On the Friday i chased him up again and he said nothing could be done yet as he could get hold of the landlord - when I rang him on the Monday he said the same thing.... Another week went by where no one would return my calls. I went to my neighbors house and found out the details of the body corp and called them myself. They informed me that nothing had been lodged, i rang the agent and he said it had nothing to do with them and i was misinformed - it was at 6.5 weeks now without a bedroom/privacy - I asked agent what was happening with the repairs as it had been 3 weeks since he told me he was booking them and he stated that he didn't know what I was talking about or recall any such conversation!!! I was gobsmacked! I gave him exact times and date of the call and pretty much a script of what was said and he denied it!!

    I knew I wasn't getting anywhere so i asked him to meet me halfway and at least organize for the cleaning to the room and upstairs to be carried out to ensure it was safe and not hazardous as it was near Xmas i could already see the works wouldn't be completed. That night he sent me a text message approving the cleaning. I organized a cleaning quote and so did he for the next week then they refused to clean the property as it had not been assessed. The landlords assessor then contacted me 3 days later (being 7 weeks after the accident) and inspected 6 days after that. 2 days later the body corps assessor calls me and the claim has just been lodged with them so he too came to inspect the property. I am informed by the landlords assessor and the body corps assessor that the claim has only JUST been lodged... two months after the accident... the next day guys came to remove the carpet to my room and steam clean the rest of the house... that was now a month ago and that is all that has happened... My room is still filled with soot, I have attempted cleaning it but I feel I am getting nowhere (apart from getting soot all over myself), the guys that removed the carpet also left the tack strips everywhere which have proved so so SO unsafe and its now 88 days where by I have been paying rent on a room I cant use, living in the lounge room (which is so unfair on my housemates especially cos i work night shift and they work day shift) and its getting to the point where I actually don't want to go home anymore... I think I have only slept there twice in the last month as I feel so guilty making people tip toe around me - in their own lounge room, and i hate having no privacy... all in all it has brought me down :( I just cant believe I am still in this situation.. I am trying to fill in a breach of duty notice but I am getting really confused.. do I just send a notice for them to fix damages and once that is done can I claim compensation - can I claim for the extra rent I had to pay due to not being able to rent out the spare room as the repairs hadn't been carried out along with loss of amenity?? or should I or can I claim that now based on a daily figure until the repairs have been carried out??? any advice would be much appreciated... do i need legal advice?
    thanks - H-needshelp
     
  2. The Fence

    The Fence Banned

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    All I can offer is next time get everything "agreed" to in writing. Then they have to act, as you have evidence.

    As far as what you are intending to claim I have no idea but you should be contacting your state authority or Dept fair trading equivalent.

    Good luck.
     
  3. wylie

    wylie Member

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    I don't know what you should do, but in Queensland we have a free legal service.

    I would be thinking that you shouldn't have been paying rent all this time in such a situation. I'd be doing what The Fence suggests and contact the right authority (Consumer Affairs or Dept of Fair Trading) and find out your rights.

    I'd also second the "get it in writing" suggestion. Although there should be some proof of when it happened by your hospital admission dates, it sounds like everything has been promised by phone. Have you made diary notes or anything else to help with a timeline of when you told the agent, now that this is being denied?

    I'd also check with the tenancy association to see if you can stop paying rent until the house is habitable.
     
  4. Fudge

    Fudge Member

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    Don't know if this is a windup, but I will take it as though a serious question from a first timer.

    Good to see you have come to the forum, but most importantly, as others have mentioned, seek advice from professionals. Also the RTA in your state should be able to tell you exactly what your rights are, no matter what your tenancy agreement states (apart from any special conditions in your contract).

    I generally sit on the Landlords side of the fence, due to previous experiences, but I see the hardship that it would be causing you.

    Landlords have a right to provide a safe and habitable environment for occupants of their dwellings, so I see that something could be done to fix your situation.

    It sounds more like you are getting hassles from your PM.

    I would think that there is something in the legislation that if the premisis is not habitable, that you would be able, giving appropriate notice, to recind and break your tenancy agreement.

    You possibly could have done this months ago?

    Some insurance policies that Landlords take up include rehousing occupants for such instances, until the property returns to normal.

    I am sure you would be given the correct plan of attack by contacting the RTA.

    Curious to find out how fire broke out.

    Also, are you listed on the tenancy agreement.

    F
     
  5. DEC

    DEC Member

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    Do you even have the right to sublet?
     
  6. srini

    srini Member

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    Wow! Unbelievable.

    Victoria has Legal Aid (free service).

    www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/

    350 Queen Street Melbourne VIC 3000
    (03)9269 0120
     
  7. luckyone

    luckyone 2 down 8 to go.

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    Get onto your local RTA, they will help you to sort this mess out and will deal with the landlord and property manager promptly. Make sure you keep that record you have of all phone conversations, as they might want to see it.
     
  8. Hneedshelp

    Hneedshelp Member

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    Thanks a heap for all your suggestions. I wish I did get all the "promises" in writing but I just took the PM word for it, every couple I would call and I actually just thought that there was delays with the insurance/landlord etc. This is my first time renting and I suppose I was just going by the honesty system.

    I have kept a record of every single phone call, email etc that I have made and received and now I am trying to only deal with the PM via email - the problem is IF he does write back he avoids the questions I want asked - leaving me to then have to make the phone call anyway.

    DEC - I was not sub-letting the property, I had permission from the PM and the Landlord to advertise for another suitable person to join the tenancy (who would also have to be checked and approved through them).

    The fire was caused from an electric heater - the heater has a safety on it for if it over heats or topples over whereby it will switch off - in this case I woke up and although my heater was at the end of my bed a pillow from the head of my bed had fallen onto it.

    I am also listed on the tenancy agreement - along with my other housemate. We have done everything according to the act and I feel that due to my lack of knowledge in the industry, am being taken advantage of. I didn't want to risk not paying the rent or vacating the property as I thought I would then be unfairly speaking on behalf of my current housemate (who had only just moved in a few weeks prior to the accident), I had already turned her life upside down with the whole saga.

    I have called the tenants Union and they told me to serve a breach of duty notice for the works to be carried out and claim compensation for loss of amenity, failure to keep safe and in good repair etc. I was really confused talking to them though and I thought he said to claim them together but everything I have read says not to claim compensation until the repairs have been carried out? but If I wait does that jeopardize anything?? I am just getting so confused as to what is the breach of duty as the tenants union was telling my I would have separately serve the LL, the PM and then get legal advice for the Insurer??

    Gosh I could actually write about this all day but I end up going in circles....
     
  9. The Y-man

    The Y-man Member

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  10. kathryn d

    kathryn d Member

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    There is one important piece of information missing here.
    WHO owns the electric heater?
     
  11. RumpledElf

    RumpledElf all fun in the big city!

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    Is who owns it even relevant? The insurance is covering damage to the house, not the heater.
     
  12. kathryn d

    kathryn d Member

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    If we were the landlords..YES
    We would be requiring the tenant to pay for all damages they made to our property.
    Why would I want to put my insurance premiums up, for nothing?

    WE couldn't care less about the value of the heater !!


    Is being a landlord really so different here?
    Or is just the attitudes?
     
  13. jaycee

    jaycee Member

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    What ARE you talking about ?


    It's not important at all.


    And yes, insurance would be the choiuce of most sane adults in Australia.... perhaps we hgave different attitudes to Canadans , just as well no one has proven the Canadan attitude to be right & our Australian one worng, so we can both keep pretending that we actually believe we are better than each other.
     
  14. kathryn d

    kathryn d Member

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    If you really don't know...
    good luck with your investing

    But I do have a question for you Jaycee,
    In october our new tenants moved into a property of ours.
    The furnace takes heating oil, which is basically diesel.
    The tenants didn't have enough money atm to fill the tank, so they bought a small container of kerosene, because their friends said it would be ok. The furnace stopped.
    Furnace technicians charged us $227.
    Who do you think should pay this?
    Who do think we gave the bill to?
     
  15. jaycee

    jaycee Member

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    In my opinion ?

    The tenant should pay for it in this situation I believe cause they broke it.

    If the tenant had paid for filling the tank normally and something else went wrong with the furnace, like wear and tear, or act of God, or whatever else that wasn't the result of tenant doing something wrong, I'd think the owner would be stuck paying for it.

    But this is not the situation I was talking about, my post was simply talkiing about the situation described in this thread...

    I would use insurance & do not beleive I would be the ony Australian to do, so how does that make you feel about Australians kathryn ?
     
  16. kathryn d

    kathryn d Member

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    If it was the tenant's electric heater, they are responsible for any damage they, or their guests, do.
    Any landlord willing to pay for this damage, and not demand the tenant makes restitution, needs their head examined.

    If the landlord provided the electric heater, they would be responsible for all damages.

    Edit: rude would have been wishing you bad luck
     
  17. jaycee

    jaycee Member

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    Yes I kow myour opionon cauyse you already shared it.

    As I said... I would use insurance & do not beleive I would be the ony Australian to do, so how does that make you feel about Australians kathryn ?

    You are entitled to your opnion, but surely that e ntitle me and everyone else to an opinion wihtout you TELLING us were are wrong asnd sacrcastically "Wishing us luck"

    Be interested in your repeated answer to my question highlighted in bold.......
     
  18. DEC

    DEC Member

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    Well in this situation who was at fault?

    Sounds to me as if the tenants pillow, falling on the heater caused the fire.

    If the heater was placed a safe distance from the bed would it have been an issue?
     
  19. vaughan

    vaughan Member

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    Note to self: only allow electric oil heaters in the house, not radiators.
     
  20. Ideo

    Ideo Member

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    Ho hum another thread descends into uselessness thanks to the tenants are scum brigade.