Case Win: Deplorable living conditions

When the tenant arrived in Melbourne from New Zealand, she wasn’t sure what to expect from the city’s rental market. As a grandmother living on her own, she expected to be the sole occupant of her new unit.

However, within a few hours of taking the keys for her ground floor unit, she realised that she wasn’t alone – she had several hundred fleas for company!

The tenant contacted the property manager and requested that they arrange for pest control or for suitable alternative accommodation while the property was treated. The property manager laughed at the tenant and called her ‘uppity’, and said that it had been the tenant’s choice to move into the property. When she asked the property manager if they would have moved into a flea-infested property, the agent said that they would.

In addition to a flea infestation, the tenant also saw that the property was in need of a number of urgent repairs: The bathroom window was broken, which made the property completely insecure. The heater didn’t work. A kitchen cupboard was held together with push-pins.

The tenant didn’t know what to do, so she contacted the Tenants Victoria Legal Service for advice.

The Legal Service served a notice to landlord via the property manager, setting out in detail all of repair items that needed to be rectified. We also assisted the tenant with drafting an urgent repair application to VCAT.

Luckily, the urgent repair application was not required, as the property manager immediately sent tradespeople to the property and full list of repairs are now underway, including treating the flea infestation.

Shortly after the Legal Service’s intervention, we received the following message from the tenant:

“I am rather shocked but I am getting a new heater tomorrow… I really am amazed… it will be lovely to have some warmth if it’s chilly in the evenings. Incidentally [the tradesperson] said that when he was presented with the repair list, [property manager] told him to get around here ASAP. You have obviously galvanized [sic] them into action. Thank you so very much for helping me at a time when I am rather vulnerable.”
Related links:

Advice: Repairs

Advice: Giving your landlord a breach of duty notice

Advice: The Tribunal (VCAT)