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Tenant being evicted got high electricity bill and wants to use that against landlord

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by htopg, 20th Apr, 2016.

  1. htopg

    htopg Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    I have a friend who self manage.
    He got a tenant that he is going to evict soon due to constant late rent (around $1600).
    The tenants have high electricity bills - $2400 per year.
    When they sensed that my friend is going to evict them, they said that they are going to tell the tribunal that the electricity box is faulty (and contributed to the high electricity bill) in the hope that the tribunal will ask my friend to compensate them with $6000 (2.5 years x $2400/year = $6000).

    The tenants said that once the tribunal made that decision - my friend needs to compensate them with $6000
    1. they will not have rent-in-arrears ($1600 - $6000 = -$4400)
    2. they will get $4400 from my friend
    3. they will be allowed to stay

    What a wishful thinking!!

    By faulty electricity box, it means that the oven line with 20A fuse connecting to granny flat tripped over when the electricity usage was high at the granny flat.

    In my opinion, the followings should the real contributors to their high electricity bills:

    1. Too many people living in the house
    Tenant never admitted it but neighbours can prove that most of the time there are 10+ people living in the house. The tenancy agreement is only for 5.

    2. Since there are 10+ people living there, there will be more showers per day. Electricity hotwater system is used, hence higher electricity usage

    3. The swimming pool turned green many time (neighbours saw it) and they turned the pump/filter/chlorinator on during the day, using peak hour power

    4. The tenant broke the 2 windows in the living room. The airconditioner in the living room will need higher/more power to maintain the coolness of the living room.

    5. Since there are 10+ people living in the house, their clothes need to be dried with clothes dryer. Hence higher usage of electricity.

    6. Tenants leave the light on all night (neighbours saw it)

    It seems to me that this tenant got so many issues and still try hard to fight back in the tribunal.
    Tenant's issues:
    1. exceeding agreed number of tenants.
    2. broken windows are not repaired for a long time
    3. not taking care of pool
    4. constant late rent (around $1600 now)

    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. D.T.

    D.T. Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    High electric bills (presumably caused by some fault?) won't really be good enough for the tribunal, because they'll say "Why didn't you raise this earlier? Was it not a problem previously?"

    If there is a fault, it's likely that they could be compensated for that. But how much is fair? Higher electricity bills can be attributed to the air conditioning, pool pump, hot water system, dryer, etc so how much can be attributed to the fault itself?

    Exceeding number of tenants - should have been picked up at inspections and warned/breached.
    Broken windows - how do you know tenant broke it and why wasn't it noted sooner?
    Pool - should have been picked up at inspections. Arrange a pool maintenance company to service it and negotiate on whether owner or tenant pays for it.
    Late rent - definitely breach / evict for this.
     
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  3. Joshwaaaa

    Joshwaaaa Well-Known Member

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    $600 a quater isnt that expensive is it in this day and age?
     
    Last edited: 20th Apr, 2016
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  4. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    They will NOT be compensated.
    Unless they are able to prove that they reported it to the landlord, it was established as faulty by electrician with a real certificate and the landlord indeed failed to rectify.

    It sounds like from what you are saying that they only reported it after the eviction notice.
    Get your friend to get an electrical certificate of compliance as proof that something was done immediately.
    Get an electrician who does not talk and knows who they are working for - the landlord.

    They will use whatever the electrician says against you, we ensure that ours do not give any opinions or comments to the tenants. Tenants can pay for their own if they want an opinion.
     
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  5. htopg

    htopg Well-Known Member

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    During inspection, the tenant hid extra beds and asked other tenants to go somewhere else.

    Tenant admitted that they broke them and promised to repair them but never repaired.

    During the inspection, the pool was crystal clean.
    My friend was notified by neighbour that his pool turned green.

    Agreed.
    But tenant's plot to use high power bill against my friend in tribunal made me a bit worried.
    Will the tribunal even take that point as relevant?
    This tribunal is about constant late rent, not about high electricity bill.
     
  6. D.T.

    D.T. Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    The tenant definitely gets a say at the hearing, they can certainly try. The 2 points I raised above will go against them though, but to re-iterate
    1) Why not raised earlier
    2) All the other devices listed is reason enough for bills to be at the level they are.

    As for the window, can repair on bond (probably wouldn't on insurance as you'll have an excess).
     
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  7. htopg

    htopg Well-Known Member

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    The thing is, the tenant is not returning calls nor messages.
    It is impossible to organise for the electrical check.
    If electrician just turned up without telling them, they will treat it as trespassing.
     
  8. htopg

    htopg Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but the bond is as good as dead now as tenant is owing more than 4-week rents now.
     
  9. D.T.

    D.T. Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    No, send a maintenance notice. Its 48hrs here but might be different in your state.

    This will work in your favor at tribunal you know :)
    Tenant: "the power bill is too damn high!"
    Member: "What have you done about it so far?"
    Tenant: "We raised it with the PM last week!"
    Member: "Did the tenant raise this issue with you?"
    PM: "Yes, and we attempted to send someone out to investigate and was denied access. They also have a pool pump, electric hot water system, dryer, etc which could be the cause for high bills. There also hasnt been any other mention of it in the past 2 years. "
    Member: "Cya tenant"

    Use the bond for cleaning and rubbish removal so you can get the property re-rented. Use the Insurance for rent as rental related claims don't have an excess. Which side you put damage on will depend on the numbers.
     
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  10. htopg

    htopg Well-Known Member

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    You are right.
    The reason tenant brought up is that they haven't been paying any electricity bills for 2.5 years and it added up to $6000.
     
  11. Zepth

    Zepth Member

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    You mention that the breaker tripped when the granny flat was using too much. Does that mean the granny flat and main property are not separately metered? Are they tenanted on separate leases or one lease?

    If they are separate leases and not separately metered then tenant may be able to argue they should never have had to pay electricity......
     
  12. Xenia

    Xenia Adelaide Property Manager Business Member

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    I would not recommend just turning up as you will be in breach of quiet enjoyment.

    Send them SMS messages or emails and keep the dates as proof.

    If access is denied on the tenants side then the liability falls on them. Keep proof.
     
  13. datto

    datto Well-Known Member

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    Don't forget the hydro set up in the back room. Those things don't run on fresh air alone.
     
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  14. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    They do if you bypass the meter ;)
     
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  15. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    Give the tenant a "notice to enter" and then let the electrician in yourself. You can enter with the appropriate notice.
     
  16. Ed Barton

    Ed Barton Well-Known Member

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    If the tenant didn't pay the bill for 2.5 yrs why weren't they disconnected? It only takes a few months of not paying to get disconnected. Let me guess? The bill was in the Land lords name? What else aren't you telling us?
     
  17. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    And those neighbours who have stated there are ten people living there, they run the air-con all day, the pool had gone green etc... get those things in writing from the neighbours. Keep the statement short and to the point. The tribunal member won't want to read an essay.

    Twice my parents won cases at tribunal. The second time I went along and the on topic dot point short version of the story (don't waffle or ramble on) was read by the tribunal member. I watched his face as he looked at the photos and knew then and there we would win.

    Get those things now. Don't wait.
     
  18. pinkboy

    pinkboy Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  19. htopg

    htopg Well-Known Member

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    I am sure that the bill is under tenant's name.
    I am not sure whether the whole $6000 is unpaid
    Tenant just mentioned that the landlord will be liable for $6000 electricity bill.
     
  20. htopg

    htopg Well-Known Member

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    No separate metres for water & electricity.
    They are on one lease.
    Interestingly, tenant claimed that "no separated metres" matters just because the landlord allowed them to pay separately.