Our client was a woman who lived with some disabilities who had her home at the same address for nearly twenty years. She approached the Tenants Victoria Legal Service via our tenancy help line when she experienced trouble with having her landlord tend to repairs at the property.
The list of repairs was extensive as a result of ongoing neglect by the landlord. Furthermore, these issues posed a significant concern to the tenant’s health and safety including a broken hot water service, mould, lack of security due to a broken side gate and a fence that was in severe disrepair. The client had already obtained orders at VCAT requiring the landlord to address the repairs. However instead of simply tending to the repairs, the landlord served our client with a notice to vacate claiming that the repairs and renovations could not be completed with the tenant still living on the premises.
At the time our client contacted our Legal Service, she had two primary concerns:
First, due to the behaviour of the landlord and the lack of maintenance in keeping up the premises, our client no longer wished to remain at the premises. While her landlord was willing to provide a short-term extension to her tenancy to allow time to find a new home, her specific housing requirements made finding suitable housing a challenge.
Second, upon reviewing the notice to vacate issued by the landlord, our Legal Service identified it as a ‘bare notice’ – one which merely recited part of the Residential Tenancies Act rather than including the details required by the Act.
We brought this to the attention of the real estate agent representing the landlord, and they responded by issuing a new notice without withdrawing the one already issued. We represented our client at a VCAT hearing to have the first notice declared invalid.
While the landlord’s second notice contained more detail, it was our opinion that it still failed to meet the requirements under the Act. We assisted our client to challenge this second notice at VCAT, and the VCAT member provided a two month adjournment to provide our client with the time to move out of her home. The VCAT member also set a future one-hour hearing to further consider and decide on the matter if our client hadn’t found a new home by that time.
Our client was able to leverage this time to locate a suitable home and move out. Our Legal Service was then able to provide the client with advice on how to pursue the landlord for compensation for the failures to maintain the property and comply with the VCAT repair orders.