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International Student (Debt Collector)

Discussion in 'Legal Issues' started by KiruHuru, 5th Apr, 2016.

  1. KiruHuru

    KiruHuru New Member

    Joined:
    5th Apr, 2016
    Posts:
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    Location:
    Sydney
    Hi Everyone

    i was wondering if you can help me. The debt collectors are threatening to sue me for $275 for an unpaid electricity bill. However the bill was for my stay in a flat where there was no formal tenancy agreement and all money was paid in cash further the bond was also not registered with the NSW fair trading.
    http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/m...rting_a_tenancy_information_for_landlords.pdf

    I was an international student in Australia from 2010 to 2015. I was a resident in Australia for the duration of my 5 years. I completed my studies and left the country in 2015.

    In 2012 I was sharing a house (with two friends) from July until November (5 months) in Sydney city near oxford street. There was no rental agreement of contract however it was implied that the rent covered all utilities and bills. however a couple of weeks after we moved in someone from the energy company came to the home and asked to register for the electricity. I was pretty stupid and give them my name, email, phone number and signature.

    In 2014 I got a call from AGL that the electricity bill was unpaid and needs to be paid. I told them that the home owner was responsible for paying the bills as we paid a portion of the bills through our rent.

    after a few more calls from 2014 to 2015 i got an email from them a few weeks ago from the debt collectors that if we do not pay the $275 the matter will be taken to court and will affect my credit file.

    I am currently not in Australia, but i do plan on returning once I am married with my Australian partner.

    My question is:
    1. Can AGL and the debt collector legally hold me liable for a property i didn't own or that I didn't have a tenancy agreement for? The tenancy agreement was verbal and noting was written.
    2. Can my credit file be really impacted if i return to australia under a different visa and different married name? Do I even have a credit file since i was a international student?
    3. Can I ask the Landlord to uphold her agreement and pay the electricity bill or report the tenancy to the ATO as we paid in cash and further to the NSW fair trading because there was no tenancy agreement and the bond was not registered with the NSW fair trading.

    Any help would be most appreciated..
     
    Last edited: 5th Apr, 2016
  2. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

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    Why don't you just email them back saying you aren't responsible for the bill.
     
  3. teetotal

    teetotal Well-Known Member

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    If there is no tenancy agreement and nothing written. Just tell them you never lived there and someone is trying to scam you.
     
  4. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    I would think you gave your name and signed up as the account holder so I would pay up and then chase the landlord. I wouldn't risk my credit file for $275. Do you have contact details for the landlord?
     
    legallyblonde likes this.
  5. markson

    markson Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    NSW
    You signed up for a service. Just the same as if you signed up for a mobile phone account. If you dont pay the bill then they chase you for the cash. You have no tenancy agreement to prove that you arent responsible for the electricity. Yes it is going to tarnish your credit rating.
     
    legallyblonde and wylie like this.
  6. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    1. yes
    2. yes.
    3/ yes
     
  7. Peter_Tersteeg

    Peter_Tersteeg Finance broker and strategist Business Member

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    The fact that they're chasing you indicates your name was on the bill, they've got that in writing. You're responsible for it so you need to pay the bill or they will register a default against you on your credit file.

    You don't have anything in writing with the landlord, so it would appear that you've got nothing to fall back to there.

    Things only truly happen when they're in writing.
     
    legallyblonde and wylie like this.
  8. York

    York Finance Broker Business Member

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    It seems like the arrangement was for the landlord to pay the utilities. Unfortunately you gave them your name as the account holder of the utility. You would have signed a contract for it also. That means legally you are bound by that contract. You could try chase the landlord for it or seek legal advice. But really, for $275 its not really worth doing anything other than paying it. If you plan to return to Australia you don't want any headaches that will haunt you later on. Just pay it and its done. Be more careful in future where you put your signature.
     
    legallyblonde and wylie like this.
  9. JDM

    JDM Well-Known Member

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    "someone from the energy company came to the home and asked to register for the electricity. I was pretty stupid and give them my name, email, phone number and signature." - It sounds like you've signed up with an energy provider and agreed to be liable for the costs of the service they provide. You should pay the amount owing. I do not like your chances of recovering this amount from the landlord if you do not have a written agreement to fall back on.
     
  10. datto

    datto Well-Known Member

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    Contact the electricity company and explain the story to them. If no luck go to the electricity ombudsman.

    I'm sure some bright spark there will be able to help you and not leave you in the dark
     
    legallyblonde likes this.
  11. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    If you signed up for it then you are responsible for it.
    The lease and bond arrangements have nothing to do with the utilities company.
     
    Joynz likes this.
  12. Joynz

    Joynz Well-Known Member

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    Melbourne
    You were a successful university student, possibly for a higher degree judging by the length of stay. Therefore, you have a great earning capacity.

    You also have excellent English and should have read what you were signing. Finally, you had years to sort this out with your landlord before leaving the country.

    Just pay the money, it is a tiny amount and next time read any contracts you sign more carefully!
     
  13. Paul@PFI

    Paul@PFI Tax Accounting + SMSF Business Member

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    $275 could destroy your credit reference. Pay it. You occupied the place.
     
    wylie likes this.