Did you really lose at court?
Has your Property Manager recently represented you in court for a dispute with your current or previous tenant? If they have, did you receive the outcome you were hoping for or did the Court side with the tenant?
If you didn’t receive the outcome you wanted, it might be worth your time to take a step back and review what has occurred to ensure that you are getting the full story.
QCAT is the Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal and one of it’s functions is to determine the outcomes of residential disputes in Queensland. Typically, these disputes relate to evicting a tenant or who the bond is disbursed to at the end of the tenancy.
Here in Toowoomba, we have a Magistrate preside over the hearing and no lawyers are permitted in the courtroom. Generally the Property Manager attends court on your behalf.
In all my years in Property Management, I have had to represent owners at QCAT on many occasions. Sitting in the courtroom waiting for my case to be called I have seen other cases presented to the Magistrate by other agencies as well so have a good insight into what occurs within the courtroom.
Generally, Magistrates will look at all of the documents provided as evidence to the court and will make a judgement based on the evidence given. When it comes to “wear and tear” and repairs, the Magistrate often err’s on the conservative side, meaning that they may award compensation but will consider age, condition and evidence provided as well. This often means that the full amount of compensation asked for may be reduced.
This is why the Entry Condition Report is an extremely important document and it is the sole reason many agent lose at QCAT.
I recently presented a case to QCAT for tenant damage, one of which was a burn mark on the kitchen bench. The mark was in a round circle, which would most likely been caused by a hot pot being place directly on the bench.
The Entry Condition Report was completed by the agency managing the property prior to us taking over and they had noted “marks on kitchen bench”. While there were other small marks on the bench, there was no note about this burn mark. The entry condition report photos, were blurry and did not show any of the marks on the bench.
For this reason, the Magistrate advised that the Entry Condition Report was not detailed enough. Had the report said “chips to the join on the south wall” with an accompanying photo, then he would have advised that if the burn mark was there, then it should have been noted in a similar manner.
I did advise the owner, prior to going to court, that this ruling may be the case for this particular item in the claim, as in my experience, Magistrates will only rule in the Property Managers favour if the evidence is undisputable.
My question however is this? If the original person who completed this Entry Report went to court and lost, would they have told the owner that the Magistrate could not rule in their favour as the report they completed was not detailed enough, or would they have simply reported that the Magistrate sided with the tenant and said it was wear and tear?
Once a hearing is complete and judgement has been made, QCAT will send an order to the agent, but this order only states the amount of compensation to each party, not the reasons why the Magistrate has made the order.
In the interest of transparency, all court forms, including applications and counter applications should be given to the owner of the property so they can see the exact sequence of events. If you haven’t received these and have been involved in a QCAT hearing recently, contact your current agent for a copy.
If you are unsure of what has happened at the hearing and would like to know there is a way! Every QCAT hearing in Toowoomba is recorded and a copy of the script can be purchased at https://www.auscript.com/en-AU/court-transcripts/queensland-courts/.
You will need some details of the hearing dates and registered numbers but all of this can be provided by your agent or by calling the courthouse.
In the event that you have lost at QCAT, it may be worth taking the time to investigate the reasoning behind the loss. If your agent has not performed their duties as they should have, there is the ability to take that further, including compensation.