The Cost of Filing Tenancy Tribunal Applications

At a recent Tenancy Tribunal hearing, a landlord made a claim against the tenant for rent arrears, costs such as cleaning, and costs associated with alleged methamphetamine contamination of the premises.

The landlord claimed that the premises were damaged by methamphetamine contamination during the tenancy to the extent that the premises were not habitable and needed to be decontaminated. However, no methamphetamine test was conducted immediately before the tenancy began and a pre-tenancy test is usually required for the landlord to establish if the premises were contaminated prior to the tenant moving in. There are other means to prove contamination if a pre-tenancy methamphetamine test was not conducted, however, the evidence must be compelling. For this particular case, there was no evidence provided to suggest that the current tenant was responsible for the methamphetamine contamination of the property.

Due to the seriousness of the allegations, the tenants engaged legal counsel. As the tenant was represented by legal counsel, the Tribunal had the power to award costs. The tenants, represented by legal counsel, filed a memorandum seeking costs and the Tribunal made an award of $2,500 to the tenant. This amount was awarded firstly, due to the serious allegations that methamphetamine was used, and possibly manufactured on the premises, and that the landlord made this application without considering what evidence was required to prove it. Secondly, because the tenant was largely successful against all the allegations claimed by the landlord, the tenant had their name and identifying details suppressed from the Tenancy Tribunal order.

A landlord must consider the validity of any allegation and what evidence they have before making an application to Tenancy Tribunal. Property managers should advise landlords on the possible success of any claims and provide a professional opinion as to whether they should proceed. There may be times when a property manager declines to represent a landlord if the case does not have legitimacy.