QCAT case study: renting rooms requires careful management
A recent decision by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) highlights the importance of up-to-date tenancy documentation.
Adam, Steven, James and Ben rented a house from Mr and Mrs Johnson in August 2012 for a 3-month term. Each of the four student tenants paid a $400 bond and $100 rent per week. The tenancy agreement included a special term requiring each tenant to pay one quarter of any bills for the property.
James and Ben moved out in October 2012 and each received their $400 bond back from Mr and Mrs Johnson. After the tenancy agreement expired in November 2012, the tenancy continued as periodic. No further written tenancy agreement was entered into.
In March 2013 Jessica and Alison moved into the property. They were not asked to pay a bond to Mr or Mrs Johnson.
Alison and Jessica moved out of the property in June 2013. Adam and Steven continued to pay $100 rent per week each and were the only remaining tenants.
Adam and Steven vacated the property in May 2014. In October 2014, Adam and Steven submitted a residential tenancy dispute application to QCAT each seeking the return of their $400 bond still held by Mr and Mrs Johnson.
Mr and Mrs Johnson filed a counter-application seeking $9,500 rent arrears. They also claimed $500 for repairs to five broken windows.
Mr and Mrs Johnson claimed Alison and Jessica were sub-tenants of Adam and Steven so Adam and Steven should be liable for their rent after they left the property. However rent ledgers showed rent payments being made by Alison and Jessica directly to Mr and Mrs Johnson.
The Tribunal determined Adam and Steven were not liable for the rent arrears claimed. The four tenants named in the original residential tenancy agreement were not jointly liable for total rent of $400 per week. They were required to pay $100 per week and one quarter of any bills. The Tribunal concluded the tenancy was clearly room-by-room student accommodation.
They were also not liable for the repair of broken windows. The windows were all in common areas shared by tenants and it was impossible to determine who was responsible as no entry or exit condition reports were completed.
The Tribunal found Adam and Steven should each have their $400 bond returned by Mr and Mrs Johnson. No rental arrears were awarded to Mr and Mrs Johnson.
You can read more QCAT decisions in residential tenancy matters at Supreme Court Library Queensland website – Residential tenancy matters.
- Mr and Mrs Johnson should also have lodged the rental bonds with the RTA within 10 days of receipt. It is an offence not to do so and penalties apply.
- Names have been changed.