Paddington agency fined $4,500
A Brisbane real estate agency has been fined $4,500 plus court costs after an agent held an open house without the tenant’s written consent.
The lessor or lessor’s agent must not conduct an open house, or allow an open house to be conducted, on the premises without the tenant’s written consent (RTRA ACT s204(1)(b)).
The director of the Paddington agency pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, resulting in a reduced penalty.
The sentencing hearing heard that a tenant of the agency had given notice to leave.
The agency subsequently conducted an open house. But instead of obtaining the tenant’s written consent for the open house, they issued an Entry notice (Form 9) stating they would be entering the premises for a different purpose.
The tenant then saw an online advertisement showing her property being 'open for inspection'. She contacted the RTA and discovered there was a legal requirement that her written consent was needed for an open house to occur.
"I can appreciate how unsettled and annoyed that she would’ve been," the Magistrate said.
The Magistrate noted the company was "a very experienced one" that managed "a large number of properties".
The agency was fined $4,500 and ordered to pay court costs of $89.80. No conviction was recorded.
RTA CEO Darren Barlow said rules around open houses should always be followed.
He said that in 2014-15 the RTA conducted more than 500 investigations into alleged breaches of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008.
The most common offences continue to be failure to lodge bonds within the required timeframe, and failure to provide necessary documents at the start of a tenancy.
Fast facts about open houses
- An open house can only be held if the tenant agrees in writing
- Any entry to a rental property, including an open house, must be preceded by an Entry notice and at least 24 hours notice
- The entry must be at a reasonable time, and unless the tenant agrees must not be:
- on Sundays or public holidays
- on any other day before 8am or after 6pm
- A reasonable time must have elapsed since the previous entry for the same purpose
- If the property is for sale, there are other rules that must be followed
- Marketing photos (e.g. on 'for sale/rent' signs or on the internet) showing a tenant’s possessions can only be used if the tenant agrees in writing
- The property manager/owner must ensure the tenant has quiet enjoyment of the property
For all other viewings, an Entry notice must be given for each entry and must follow the other rules for entry above.