BITTER feuds over bond money are driving a rising number of disputes between angry tenants and Far North real estate agents.
Source: The Cairns Post November 22, 2015
Figures from the Residential Tenancies Authority show there were 969 formal disputes lodged in the Cairns region during the 2014-15 financial year, about 50 more than in 2013-14.
Since July this year, Far North residents have already approached the RTA with almost 500 complaints.
According to the RTA, disagreements over bond money made up more than half of all rental arguments.
Trinity Beach resident and single mother Joanne McArdle was fuming after being told by a Cairns real estate agency that her bond was being withheld, despite leaving the rental unit “spotless” when she handed over the keys.
“When I moved in (two years ago) the place was disgraceful,” she said.
“I take great pride in my work and there’s no way I would have walked away from that property without being happy with it.
“They can’t keep doing this to people. It has really knocked me for six.”
Ms McArdle, a professional cleaner, said she was only given a few days’ notice to vacate the property instead of the mandatory fortnight.
She has lodged a dispute with the RTA, which will also consider Ms McArdle’s claim that she was not given the chance to fix the problems after being notified by the property manager earlier this month.
Cairns man Jason Butcher is planning to take court action against a Far North real estate agent, saying it failed to provide a duty of care for his family after being “continually harassed” by a neighbour.
He said they were left with no option but to vacate their duplex home.
“The real estate agent shrugged us off and said they would not be getting involved at all,” Mr Butcher said.
“I was concerned for my family and it is disgusting that they didn’t show any care towards their tenants.”
In 2014-15, tenants received 73.3 per cent of all bond money refunded by the Queensland RTA.
Cairns REIQ zone chairman Greg Clyde-Smith said real estate agents and landlords had nothing to gain from “ripping off” tenants.
“Going to court or wrongfully withholding bond brings absolutely no advantage whatsoever,” he said.
“We try to resolve all disputes before they go to the courts but a number of tenants are very stubborn and very demanding.”
Mr Clyde-Smith said tenants who failed to highlight property problems in the Entry Condition Report were more likely to have their bond money withheld.
Jason Thomson | Mortgage Adviser and Finance Broker | Smartline Cairns