The refund was won over some relatively minor matters that the landlord simply refused to fix.
Like Erin Brockovich, 44-year-old mother Amanda Schneider has no legal experience, but she knows right from wrong, and used that knowledge to stand up for herself. Her reward was a refund of almost $10,000 in rent because her landlord refused to fix a couple of minor problems.
“Regardless of how much they try to intimidate you, or bully you, or see you just as a tenant, you can stand up to these people,” said Schneider. Her win over a national real estate agency is a landmark which gives hope to all tenants, and acts as a wakeup call to all landlords. “This is just opening a huge floodgate for tenants to stand up and say ‘we’re not going to put up with being treated this way’,” she added.
When Schneider and her partner signed a lease for their house two years ago, it was a pigsty. Like any good tenant, the couple spent months cleaning it up. “We were taking good care of the property, we established gardens and lawns, we did an extensive amount of cleaning, we re-screened the property – we loved it there,” she said. After moving in, they alerted Raine and Horne about unsafe pavers and an un-lockable window and roller door – all of these, Schneider discovered were in breach of her contract.
A lot of people would just put up with, this but not this tenant – she took her agent to court. And it turned out the law was on her side. Schneider did her own research, legal legwork and represented herself, and the Magistrate ruled in her favour, ordering her lease terminated, her bond be returned, and a reimbursement of almost $10,000 paid. The real estate agent and the owner were forced to go halves. “I appeared in court seven times over ten months in order to win this battle, but I wasn’t giving up – I wasn’t giving up for me, and I wasn’t giving up for tenants Australia wide.” “It does give all property managers a bad name and a bad reputation, and that’s very unfortunate for the industry,” veteran agent Jodie Ford said. “This could certainly put property managers on notice, and I think it should put property managers on notice.
It is ultimately our responsibility to make sure that tenants have a safe environment to live in.” The principal of Raine and Horne has declined our offer to be interviewed on camera. He thinks the issue is done and dusted, and Schneider’s agent Janice, no longer works there. Raine and Horne tried hiding behind an indemnity clause in court, arguing the owner didn’t give them permission to fix the problems, but Schneider proved that argument was false, showing they didn’t need permission to carry out emergency repairs. “They shot themselves in the foot, and then I blew them out of the water,” Schneider said. The real estate novice is so passionate about the case, she’s now planning to study law, and has even launched her own website, naming and shaming second-rate property managers. She’s calling on all renters to come forward. “I want to be Australia’s answer to Erin Brockovich, to stand up for the people of Australia who are tenants who get treated badly.”
Statement from Raine and Horne Rockhampton (received at 5pm).
Click here for source of article, written by Josh Fajzullin from Today Tonight in September 2011.