A tenant who is understanding sometimes is only setting you up to be sued.
Leverage has recently been instructed on a case where the landlord did everything they could for the tenant: they accommodated his disability, offered to maintain and repair defects, did not increase rent and offered to allow them to move out when leakages damages their property, now only to find that they are being sued under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
In 2013, the tenant executed a residential tenancies agreement. The tenant had lived in the adjacent penthouse and knew that the roof was leaking like a sieve. Nonetheless, the tenant signed a lease with the landlord and moved in.
For three years, the landlord has not increased the rent because of the leaking roof. The landlord has also offered to replace carpets, repaint the wall, and replace damaged goods. The tenant refused all offers. We have seen emails where the tenant has said ‘We like living here and everything is ok. No need to make any changes to the unit.’
The tenant has now served a demand on the landlord for sums in excess of $17,000. They want compensation for rent from 2013 and a reduction of rent for the interference by the owner’s corporation in fixing the leak. We now have no leaks and the premise is in a pristine state.
One can be forgiven for believing the tenant had deliberately set up the landlord for such a claim over 3 years. Where a tenant has a claim, it is always best to repair the property or terminate the residential agreement when possible.
In this case, the tenant loses a right to claim because they did not mitigate their losses. They executed two further tenancy agreements that indicate they were satisfied with the condition of the property.
All property managers should be mindful to not leave their landlords in a position of facing such losses. The landlord will now be faced with the cost of lawyers to resolve the issue.