Tough Going For Northern Territory Tenants
by Tim O'Dwyer M.A., LL.B
Below is the slightly edited text of an email and attachment I received this week from a very distressed Darwin couple. I have referred them to local solicitors for legal advice, and to a television current affairs programme.
"Dear Mr. Tim O'Dwyer M.A., LL.B,
We have been reading the articles on the Australian Real estate Blog and we have several misconduct grievances against nationally-franchised Property Agents that may be of interest to you. If you could spare us some time to give us some advice on how to ensure that the concerned property agents face prosecution, we would be greatly appreciative.
If you care to read the letter attached below, you will find the main grievances we hold outlined in detail. In summary, the concerned property agents have worked against the Northern Territory Residential Residency Act (1979), the Trade Practices Act , and the REIA Code of Conduct in their management capacity during our term of lease. We have suffered constant harassment from their office during our residential lease, and coercion in terms of threats and intimidations when complaints were made at lease expiry. At the expiry of the recent tenancy agreement, we were issued with an RT5 Notice from the agents’ office, even though we had not been breached once during the entire tenancy. We have been left without a working oven during the entirety of the lease term, and without kitchen gas for a major portion of this. Our pleas to their office have been largely ignored, or scoffed at.
In an attempt to rectify matters, we have forwarded our grievances onto the NT Office of Consumer Affairs, the CEO of REIA, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the NT Department of Justice Licensing Board, and the CEO of the national office of the agents. The majority of the above emails have not been honoured with replies. The Office of Consumer Affairs replied with a message stating that we may be able to claim compensation for the lack of a working oven, if we can provide evidence that the appliance was never in working order.
During a telephone conversation, a lady from this office stated that there was little that we could do about the harassment and coercion we had suffered, as the residential lease agreement has expired. She went on to say that we were now at fault in the eyes of the law as the lease has expired and we have not provided vacant possession, though we have not been able to obtain alternative accommodation as yet. So it would seem that neither the national or state regulatory bodies established to enforce the acts and guidelines governing real estate agents in the Northern Territory are interested in proceeding to prosecution.
As matters stand, we have been unsuccessful in gaining the attention of the relevant authorities’ regulatory real estate agency practices, and would greatly appreciate any advice that you could offer to us on how next to proceed. We feel that legal regulations should be enforced against these agents. The Darwin-based agents do not seem to concern themselves with the legislation that supposedly regulates their profession, and have been witnessed to scoff and make intimidations if the relevant acts are mentioned to them. We would also benefit from your advice on whether it is worthwhile seeking compensation, particularly ‘intentional infliction of emotional distress’. We are sure that your considerable expertise would be of great benefit in this situation. If you are interested and require any further verifying documentation, we would be more then happy to forward these onto you. Thank you for your time.
With Kind Regards,
Joanne and Richard
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