NSW Tenant calling plumber for silly reason then charging via the agent?

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by [d4rk-fr3d], 10th Mar, 2020.

Join Australia's most dynamic and respected property investment community
  1. [d4rk-fr3d]

    [d4rk-fr3d] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    9th Jul, 2019
    Posts:
    120
    Location:
    NSW
    Hi Folks,

    I need some help and suggestion here about what can I do under the silly situation I experienced this week.

    The tenant had reported that the water to their second property (studio building) was not functioning, hence they called the Property Manager and the PM confirmed all of the water valve on the meter was not turned off.

    Since the back house property was newly built (less than 1 year) the builder still have one year warranty for that, hence I suggested to send in my plumber/builder.

    Upon arriving at the property, the plumber found out the water valve was turned off, hence it was "easy" fix, then he is now demanding for $300 for after-hours emergency Out-call.

    Now both the tenant and the PM is not responding to my SMS & email to make sure I get the response in writing for who need to pay for this emergency out call.

    Therefore, would it be possible to issue the Outcall plumber bill to the tenant?
    or if the tenant refused to pay, can this amount deducted on the Bond-Money instead.

    Thanks in advance.
     
    Michael Mitchell likes this.
  2. Michael Mitchell

    Michael Mitchell Property Manager Business Member

    Joined:
    17th Sep, 2018
    Posts:
    757
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Water is an essential service, I'm in QLD so don't know about NSW, but would assume similar - it falls under 'emergency maintenance' and in the standard lease terms and conditions the tenant does have various rights and powers to call out trades to handle emergency repairs. However the fact nothing was wrong and the stop-male gallinaceous bird was simply turned off, and the PM supposedly checked this which then asks the question is the tenant playing games and turning it on and off etc, I think you would have a very good argument to seek compensation from the tenant. It would all come down to a test of reasonableness and what the tenant should and should not be expected to know/do and also what evidence you have to support your case.

    A similar example, I had a tenant move into a unit, called me after hours to let me know the air con wasn't working, I asked if the power was on - yes, if the remote batteries were working - yes, if the circuit breakers in the electrical box were all on - yes; no prob there's not much more I can do re: troubleshooting. Sent the electrician out, turns out the isolator to do the outdoor unit was turned off. When I did the entry report it was on, when the tenant had Energex attend to connect the power they turn everything off, connect power to the premise, then check each power point and switch etc to make sure it's safe, [I can only assume] they forgot to turn the outdoor unit for the air con isolator switch back on (otherwise it's never touched), tenant was correct in that the power 'was on' (to the property as other stuff worked). The tenant was an extremely intelligent individual (occupation and salary..), he first read through all the manuals provided etc, and never in my wildest dreams did I think they would not check the outdoor power point (big isolator switch) to the outdoor bit of the split system when I asked 'if the power was on'. Sparky's bill was $100, naturally the Owner should not pay this, the tenant didn't want to pay it, I took it through dispute resolution and the tenant and I agreed the tenant would pay half and I would pay half as it's something that never occurred to me but I will definitely include in my check list next time.

    Interestingly, my understanding of tribunal adjudications, if a tenant has reported a maintenance issue that turns out to be a nothing, as long as their report was not malicious eg. they had reason to report it thinking there was a legitimate problem, they are generally not liable and it really does come back to the Lessor/Agent to investigate the matter properly and thoroughly before deciding to engage a trades person to attend. In the above example of the air con, if no compromise was reached and it escalated to QCAT, I feel the tribunal would have ruled the tenant would not have been responsible to pay any compensation.

    upload_2020-3-10_22-18-25.png

    upload_2020-3-10_22-20-1.png
     
    Last edited: 11th Mar, 2020
  3. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    4,017
    Location:
    Perth, WA
    Yes I would say the general rule is that a lessor would have to prove that the tenant was negligent in seeking the attendance of the tradie/contractor.

    So its not merely enough that it was a simple fix.

    In the OP's scenario, I can't really see where the negligence would be though. We didn't get much relevant information.
     
    [d4rk-fr3d] and Michael Mitchell like this.
  4. [d4rk-fr3d]

    [d4rk-fr3d] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    9th Jul, 2019
    Posts:
    120
    Location:
    NSW
    Does the photo evidence of the switch is considered enough?
     
  5. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    4,017
    Location:
    Perth, WA
    I don't really know what you're talking about.

    Can you explain what the tenant did or didn't do, and what they reasonably should have done differently, that led to the wasted callout?
     
  6. Marg4000

    Marg4000 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    4,879
    Location:
    Qld
    You can’t bill the tenant.
    Tenant quite correctly notified the PM who confirmed the water was not turned off.
    Suggest you take it up with the PM.
     
  7. D.T.

    D.T. Specialist Property Manager Business Member

    Joined:
    13th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    8,861
    Location:
    Adelaide and Gold Coast
    If its just the mains turned off, that's something I'd reasonably expect a tenant to be able to check. And something I'd reasonably expect a PM to check in their troubleshooting process.

    However, if its not accessible or requires special equipment or whatever, then well within their rights to get a plumber because water is an essential requirement.
     
  8. Hayley Cannon

    Hayley Cannon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19th Mar, 2020
    Posts:
    108
    Location:
    Sydney
    I would usually pass this charge onto a tenant however depending on where the valve is located and the fact is different to usual water main i would either split the charge between tenant and landlord or ask landlord to cover and note for future reference that if this occurs again the tenant is liable
     
  9. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    4,017
    Location:
    Perth, WA
    That seems to ignore the actual law on the issue though?
     
    Michael Mitchell likes this.
  10. Hayley Cannon

    Hayley Cannon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19th Mar, 2020
    Posts:
    108
    Location:
    Sydney
    What law are you referring too?
     
  11. Bunbury

    Bunbury Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16th May, 2017
    Posts:
    383
    Location:
    Melbourne
    The landlord is not liable for the tenant's stupidity. End of story.
     
    Jasmine and Hayley Cannon like this.
  12. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    4,017
    Location:
    Perth, WA
    The ones that determine who is liable for a situation like the OP's. Because you'rem suggesting the tenant is legally liable aren't you? What legal basis do you have for that?
     
    Michael Mitchell likes this.
  13. Hayley Cannon

    Hayley Cannon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19th Mar, 2020
    Posts:
    108
    Location:
    Sydney
    More details need providing however, the valve i am assuming would be near the studio in a secure yard...who had access to turn this off? Seems like a user error. Valves generally do not turn off by themselves.
     
    craigc, Bunbury and Michael Mitchell like this.