QCAT Article – Tribunal backs PM over racked-up rental arrears

A legal tribunal has ruled that property managers have the right to evict tenants who refuse to pay rent.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has rejected an appeal by Imogen Bunting, a tenant who tried to overturn the decision to evict her from her property of 15 years.

The original case was instigated in August 2014 after Ms Bunting stopped paying rent to the property manager, Jeff Jones Real Estate, and the landlord, Adrian Vos.

She was issued a Notice to Remedy for the unpaid rent, which was then $454, and then a Notice to Leave. The tribunal agreed to terminate the tenancy in December.

However, Ms Bunting appealed the decision because she had lived in the property for 15 years, and it had become a home to her, her teenage son and pets. The tribunal, though, rejected this argument.

“The impact of termination on the tenant and her family may be relevant. However, a landlord cannot be expected to accommodate non-paying tenants indefinitely,” it said.

Ms Bunting complied with an order to pay weekly rent of $75 while her appeal was being heard – but this only compounded the problem given that her actual rent was $300.

That meant outstanding rent had increased to more than $4,000 by the date of the hearing and about $10,000 by the time of the appeal.

The tribunal rejected Ms Bunting’s attempt to drag the property manager into the dispute by asking Jeff Jones Real Estate to provide evidence of property inspections and condition reports.

“Unfortunately for Ms Bunting, none of this evidence is relevant to determining the appeal and whether the tenancy should be terminated for Ms Bunting’s failure to pay rent,” the tribunal said.

“This is because an allegation that the landlord failed to maintain the property does not allow the tenant to cease paying rent.”

The tribunal said the decision to evict Ms Bunting was reasonable because a tenant’s primary obligation is to pay rent.

Perrau, Elyse. “Tribunal backs PM over racked-up rental arrears.” RPM Residential Property Manager, 27 May 2015. Web. 27 May 2015.