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Advice needed on going to tribunals (QLD) over cleaning fees

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by Likestoread, 7th Apr, 2016.

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  1. Likestoread

    Likestoread Member

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    Hi All

    My tenant has left my IP (in Brisbane) in a very messy state. They think they can avoid their cleaning responsibility because they wrote DIRTY on pretty much the entire condition report. The cleaning fees is $700 and gardener's fee to tidy up the backyard is $200. The tenant has put a claim on their bond which means we are going to the tribunals over cleaning fees. I have receipts of the new carpet installed just before they moved in, gardener's fees to show the grass was just mowed and also cleaners' receipt to show the house was cleaned professionally before they moved in. My PM also took enough pictures of the house before they moved in and also after they vacated.

    Any tips of what to do and what not to do in the tribunals? My PM says the tribunals are designed to help/protect tenants so my chance of being able to claim these fees are minimal.

    Thanking you in advance for your advice
     
  2. Lil Skater

    Lil Skater Well-Known Member Business Member

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    Not from QLD, but if I disagree with a condition report (it has happened because a few think they can write DIRTY and get away with it) I challenge it with photos, or inspect the property again.

    Did the PM do anything with the CR when it was returned?

    Before and after photos, are they clear? Same areas?
     
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  3. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, not to buy into the "tribunals are biased" catchcry, when in my experience, its just an excuse for claimants that are too lazy or disorganised in bringing a claim.

    Just like any other civil claim in our legal system, a landlord has the burden of proof - so make sure you or your PM bring evidence and present appropriately.

    Know your law too. I'm assuming your claim is for the failure of the tenant to keep the premises 'reasonably clean'. What about the gardens?
     
  4. emza

    emza Well-Known Member

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    Turn up with your photos and hope your PM has done everything they were meant to.

    Did the tenants claim immediately? Or did your PM do the final inspection, get in contact and then they claimed? Were they given any opportunity to return to clean the property? Was there any email correspondence between the PM and them?

    I'd check with the PM on the timeline and what correspondence was sent/received. Definitely dig into what the PM sent/received as you don't want to turn up at QCAT and the tenants pull out a bunch of emails that rip your position to shreds.

    Check the photos show what you think they show. Hope that your exit photos are easily identifiable for location (a random wall is no use to a magistrate).

    There's no law saying a PM has to allow a tenant to return for additional cleaning but it also doesn't look great if the tenant offered to do so and the PM refused.

    I'd also take a close look at exactly what the cleaning service did. For example, if the PM on the exit report marked the ceilings as clean/undamaged and then the cleaning service washed the ceilings... well, that part of the invoice will be wiped out by the magistrate most likely.

    Check the exit report and tally how many total items inside the house there are. How many did the PM mark as clean? Because you will have a hard time convincing a magistrate that a clean sink needed to be cleaned again.
     
  5. balwoges

    balwoges Well-Known Member

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    Dont forget the actual lease itself, signed by the tenant and your PM. :)
     
  6. Zepth

    Zepth Member

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    If the tenant returned the entry condition report saying everything was dirty when it wasn't then was this challenged by the PM at all?
     
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  7. Nick Valsamis

    Nick Valsamis Well-Known Member

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    Even if the PM said anything to the tenant, they can't force them to change what they wrote.

    The PM already has photos with the ingoing condition report to back it up. The tenant won't have anything to back up their claims.
     
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  8. Marg4000

    Marg4000 Well-Known Member

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    Daughter left a rental and the agent claimed it wasn't clean as a ceiling fan was dusty and there was a hair on the ensuite sink and bond would be charged for a clean.

    Went back with her and cleaned the fan, hair nowhere to be seen.

    Funny thing was that when we returned the keys to the agent afterwards she simply signed the forms to say everything ok!!
    Marg
     
  9. MyPropertyPro

    MyPropertyPro SE Qld Property Management & Investor Services Business Member

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    I resolved bond disputes QLD wide for the RTA for eight years, basically if we couldn't resolve the issue then it went to QCAT so I have a lot of experience with this! As mentioned above by a few people, I would also question if your PM raised this when the tenant returned the entry report stating dirty everywhere? Also, you mentioned the property was professionally cleaned prior to tenants moving in and you have the invoice so this raises another point - was the cleaner contacted to go back?? If not - why not? Good money was no doubt paid for the clean so one would think they should have gone back if deemed "dirty" These points are really important and more than likely will be questioned at QCAT. Legislation states that a property must be clean when a tenancy commencing (and Im sure it was given you had a professional cleaner) however given that "dirty" is written everywhere on the report and if your PM didn't challenge it, then essentially they (your agency) are agreeing that it is dirty, therefor breaching the legislation.If a PM disagrees with the entry report (aside from getting the professional cleaner you have employed back again!) then best practice would be to meet the tenant back on site immediately and address the issues, view and rectify if possible or if the PM completely disagrees, then officially dispute the entry report in writing if necessary. When it comes to photos it is often hard to really tell how clean a property is or not and from experience, the magistrate will often not spend time looking over 200 ish photos and will simply go by the written Entry Report. Photos are more used when it comes to damage I have found. You might have luck with the gardens however if the photos clearly show the difference (visually easier to prove than cleaning) Also, with the QCAT paperwork its a good idea to write after each claim, refer to (photo 1 etc) then there might be more of a chance that the magistrate will look. You do never really know what will happen at QCAT - As i mentioned, it is good that you have a cleaning invoice prior to these tenants moving in however I do certainly feel the actions your PM took or did not take will play a big part. Not sure if you are aware however all of QCAT outcomes are available to view online on their website so you can actually have a look for yourself at some prior cleaning disputes for example if you wanted an idea of outcomes! All the best.
     
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  10. DiligentPM

    DiligentPM Well-Known Member Business Member

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    The Property Management agency is responsible for reading through the comments on the Entry Condition Report and only co- sign if in agreement with a comment augmented by detailed images as proof of status of the property (we generally take 100 images). The purpose of the Entry Condition Report is to give an accurate report on status of property. PM should never have accepted comments not supported by evidence.
     
  11. Marg4000

    Marg4000 Well-Known Member

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    But what if the tenant has photos?
    Marg
     
  12. Nick Valsamis

    Nick Valsamis Well-Known Member

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    Let's assume that the tenant knows how to beat the system and disagrees with the condition noting that it is dirty when it is actually is clean as the agent stated.

    The tenant wouldn't take any photos in this case and if they did would show that the property is clean. They need a slack property manager that doesn't take photos to get away with leaving the place dirty.

    I ask my tenants to send me their photos if they disagree so i have reference of both mine and theirs.
    If you have reasonable tenants and try to assist them then they usually cooperate with you.
     
  13. Nick Valsamis

    Nick Valsamis Well-Known Member

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    In NSW the agent will sign first and receive a copy of the tenants report afterwards so it is important to find honest tenants which will do the right thing.

    Most people are reasonable but you can still get a sense of how the tenants are in the selection process to avoid problems during the tenancy.

    Some things I watch out for:
    - Tenants that have sloppy applications with inaccurate or missing information.
    - If I ask for something specific and they give me something different.
    - If they say they will send me something in the morning and send it at night instead.

    Those are some things that establish whether the tenant is likely to be honest and reasonable during the tenancy.
     
  14. datto

    datto Well-Known Member

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    Was there a six monthly inspection report done by the PM?

    What did that say?