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Tenants to pay landlord $3000 over cockroach dispute

A Sydney couple have been ordered to pay their landlords $3000 for vacating an inner-city property just four days into their lease, due to a cockroach issue.

In a recent case, the Civil and Administrative Tribunal of New South Wales, heard the tenants had signed up for a 12-month lease, which started on April 28, 2023, but a dispute arose after they moved in and encountered cockroaches in various parts of the house including the linen cupboard, living areas, bedrooms, and bathroom.

They reported finding the insects on walls, doors, and other surfaces, according to Domain.

The situation led them to contact the property manager the day after collecting the keys, expressing discomfort over the presence of the cockroaches, especially as they had a crawling baby.

As evidence, the tenants submitted six videos and a photo to the tribunal, showing both live and dead cockroaches.

Despite their complaints, a pest control inspection conducted two days after they returned the keys to the property revealed only a “small amount of activity,” which was promptly treated.

The property manager, citing the inspection by the pest control company, deemed the claim of an uninhabitable property due to pest infestation as unsubstantiated.

The property manager informed the tenants that their departure was considered a lease break.

In the tribunal, Ross Glover, the presiding member, concluded that the tenants were not justified in vacating the property.

He noted that while the presence of pests was acknowledged, there was insufficient evidence to classify it as an infestation or to deem the property as not reasonably clean.

Mr Glover emphasised that the condition of the property did not pose significant health or safety risks.

He further clarified that the law allows tenants to seek the tribunal’s permission to end a tenancy but does not permit them to unilaterally terminate it.

As a result, the tenants were not entitled to vacate and were responsible for the property remaining vacant for an additional four weeks until it was leased again.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.