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‘I told you the rules’: Dirty dishes sharehouse stoush taken to tribunal

Domain. Suburb profile of Footcray. Hopkins street Footscray. 9th March 2016. Photo by Jason South Photo: Jason South An ugly stoush which started with dirty dishes in a sharehouse has wound up in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Nanjing Night Net

A Footscray tenant made a claim for compensation against his landlord, after a wrangle began over housekeeping, like a smudge on a plate, and escalated to mutual intervention orders.

But the tenant lost the claim after explaining seven weeks of bitter cohabitation to the state’s independent dispute tribunal.

After assessing a long list of allegations made by both men, tribunal member Kylea Campana concluded: “Living with someone is never easy. Even harder is learning to live with people you have never met before.”

The university student applicant claimed the landlord breached a duty under the Residential Tenancies Act to take all reasonable steps to provide quiet enjoyment.

He complained he was constantly harassed over many issues, including access and damage to whitegoods, the use of other tenants’ shampoo and laundry powder and everyday household chores.

He contended that scare tactics were used to get him out.

The landlord lived in a bungalow at the back of the house shared by the applicant and two others.

The tenant moved in last November. Within 10 days the landlord came to his bedroom door and yelled at him to clean up the kitchen. The tenant told him he had an exam, but after the landlord cleaned up, he returned to tell the newcomer he was annoyed.

Two days later the landlord was back at the bedroom door to say “I f—ing told you the rules.”

Ms Campana heard the tenant then locked the door and climbed out the bedroom window.

The tenant texted that morning: “I’ve just moved in and I’m already getting alarm bells. Don’t scream at me like that again and if you need to tell me anything again like that please put it in writing.”

The landlord replied: “The dishes NEED to be washed properly and the sink cleaned afterwards ??? I spent over an hour last night cleaning up your mess and removing the rubbish from that cupboard that you had hidden in there. This is unacceptable.”

Tenant: “The dishes and the kitchen were all reasonably cleaned. If this is going to become a recurring issue I will buy my own stuff so that I can clean it how I usually clean dishes. I really don’t have time for this petty stuff … some of the dishes you pointed out haven’t been used by me. As for the garbage bag, I won’t do that again.”

Landlord: “Hell if you had just listened for a couple of seconds I would not have raised my voice.”

Tenant: “Yes I know and I’m sorry if I rubbed off the wrong way but I was literally late for a board meeting and I looked like shit and I just wanted to avoid conflict.”

Over pizza, they put aside their differences but cleanliness continued to be a sore point.

Animosity escalated to intervention orders and accusations of assault and cruelty to a pet dog.

The tenant gave the landlord a breach of duty notice, explaining he was unable to work at the house and was fearful of harassment when he returned home.

He said the landlord complained about a smear of tomato on a bowl, dirty dishes lying around and food on the bench.

The renter described the house as “like a dictatorship.”

The landlord told the tribunal he was totally and utterly sick of reminding the tenant to clean up and that the tenant knew what was expected before he moved in.

Ms Campana sided with the landlord, saying he must be able to raise the issue with the tenant, especially when it affected other occupants.

The tenant also made a claim for pain and suffering as a result of the impact on his mental health, but that was struck off because it was outside VCAT’s jurisdiction.

After the tenant told the landlord he would report him to police, a friend of the landlord said to him “I pissed in your food and pissed in your products.” Another friend invited him outside for a fight.

But the landlord denied putting the friend up to it, instead discouraging interaction because “this man will twist anything.”

The applicant also claimed the landlord made his Maori guest uncomfortable by discussing her heritage and cannibalism. She left, not wanting to return.

The landlord called the RSPCA alleging the tenant hurt his dog. The tenant claimed while he was being prevented from using the washing machine, he was punched, causing a blood nose. The landlord said he punched himself.

Police advised the tenant to stay with a friend and the $77 cost of transport, two days of food and rent were part of his VCAT claim.

The tit-for-tat continued with accusations of damaging a cactus collection with a broom and internet disconnection.

The tenant claimed the landlord turned on the cold water while he was having a shower.

He also explained a car horn was blasted five times outside his bedroom window and that he was locked out of the laundry when he went to check on a load of washing.

He also claimed he was stared at while he brushed his teeth, and that he was hit in the leg with a beer bottle.

A five-day trip to Queensland to spend time with family was used to escape the stress, and the tenant tried to bill the landlord for the cost of flights.

The landlord issued notice to vacate on January 2.

It read: “The lease has been terminated due to your inability to comply with house rules???, and your misuse of other peoples properties.[sic]”

The tenant called it an illegal eviction and texted: “I’m not prepared to uproot my life because you have OCD issues. If you drag me through the mud, I will do the same ten-fold.”

At the first VCAT hearing on January 25, heard in the absence of the landlord, the tenant was granted $790 in compensation.

But the landlord sought a review and attended a rehearing, where Ms Campana dismissed the tenant’s claim, saying he had unreasonable expectations of life in a sharehouse.

“It is clear ??? that this is not a harmonious household. However, animosity and tension in a share-house does not mean that the landlord has failed to take steps to ensure the tenant has quiet enjoyment of the tenant’s bedroom.

“Being in a share house means you’re going to have some level of interruption that you wouldn’t expect if you had exclusive occupation of an entire home.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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