A PERSONAL VIEW ON THE RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES TRIBUNAL (SACAT)
It would be very unusual to find a landlord or a Property Manager that has been through the Tribunal process to seek compensation from a tenant who would think this process is fair and reasonable. And on the flip-side many tenants who have also been through this same process similarly recognise it to be bias even though they may well thank the system for being on their side.
The whole concept of a Tribunal process is to make a legal system that binds all parties to its decision but that is quick and simple and can make decisions at minimal cost compared to the normal court system.
Tribunals are obviously the way to go but being so accessible and cheap it gives an opportunity to so many more people to see how inadequate and biased the application of the Residential Tenancies Act really is.
It would be an interesting exercise to recount all the examples we have of Tribunal orders that exhibit blatant bias that would make the average reader lean back in their chair and throw their hands up in the air in disbelief.
As Property Managers we at Adelaide South Property, like any other long standing Real Estate Agent, start to take for granted the ridiculous level of bias against property owners as we experience firsthand the crazy judgements that are handed down. Then when we hear how Landlords react to this state of affairs it can still take us by surprise. That can be a real wakeup call to us.
This happened recently with landlords who inspected their property after a tenant vacated after 19 years occupancy. There are all sorts of reasons why the Tribunal might reasonably find the tenant in this case was not liable for the condition of the property.
We were the third Property Manger to look after this property and the original First Inspection report for this property was either not handed on from the first Manager or was never done. This means we have no idea what the original condition of the property was like when the tenant moved in so how can we say that ‘repair in the wall’ was not there … you must have done it.
When we took over about 5 years ago (14 years into the tenancy) the condition of the property was probably not a lot different to what it was like at the end.
The Tribunal will obviously take into consideration that there has been 19 years of wear and tear and we will agree the tenant is not liable for this. But there is reasonable wear and tear and there is unreasonable hack and slash. I have carpets in my home that were old when I bought the place 26 years ago yet they are still ok whereas the carpets in this tenant’s house are only fit for the dump and even they might reject them.
We have been to the Tribunal in similar situations like this where the landlord has received nothing. There is no understanding of what is reasonable with the Tribunal.
Maybe we should make it a regular feature in this newsletter to recount example after example of Tribunal stupidity so we can all have a laugh.
On a less cynical note there is a ‘Stakeholder Engagement Session’ which will be held at the SACAT city premises on 7th December which we will be attending. This raises the opportunity to improve the system by giving our opinion. We will report on this session in our next newsletter.
Tell us your thoughts.