Major renovation (Acrow prop) in rented unit without informing tenant

Hi everyone. We rented an apartment last month. It has a big living with great views, which was one of the major reasons that we liked the unit. As we were slowly and happily furnishing the apartment, yesterday I got an email from our agent that someone will need to come over to "install props" and it would take around two and a half hours. I booked an appointment, and to be honest, I didn't know what a "prop" is. The workers came this afternoon and only then I got to understand that there will be four metal poles installed in the living, and they will be there for AT LEASt 6 months. This is to support the ceiling while the roof trusses are getting fixed. The workers were surprised to know that we didn't know, so were our neighbor. Apparently, the owners have known about this (confirmed with my neighbor) for quite some time (before we moved in). So long story short, these four poles are here to stay for the next 6 months, and our lease is for one year. It looks ugly and we wouldn't have rented this place if we knew this would happen.

I have called my agent (who, like always, isn't in the office and will call me back) and will discuss further. In the meantime, I was wondering if you guys have any suggestions or have experienced anything similar and can advise me on what approach I should take. I cannot imagine going through all the hassles of finding and moving in another place, just when we were nicely settling down. Then again, I would not like to live in this living either.

I am at a loss, frustrated and angry. So this is me venting out, as well as asking for advice. Thanks!

Comments

  • +3 votes

    Wow opal tower part 3. Please disclose the apartment building name.

    •  

      Not as newsworthy but definitely frustrating.

  •  

    Scroll down to tenant section. Probably similar.

    https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/news-and-updates/news/opa...

    •  

      Well, I would not say the unit(s) are uninhabitable and there is an impending risk, people in other units will be living with these poles in place (numbers might vary based on condition). But the fact is they knew about these and we didn't. And this would be an important point in our consideration to rent the place.

      I am thinking that I may have two options - break the lease, or negotiate a lower rent.

  •  

    I’d start partially moving important things out, in case they come and lock you out. Then start looking for new unit.

    •  

      Just to be clear, the units are not under risk. These props are part of the ongoing renovation. So, they are not going to come and lock us out, rather keep on working on the roof while these will be in place to secure the ceiling. My point is, we were not informed about this development even though it was known issue at the time of inspection, renting or signing the lease.

  • +3 votes

    It really depends on how much they’re impacting your life. If it’s a significant impact then lowering rent won’t fix the hassle. Also know that in strata terms, 6 months may end up being a year. 🙄

    I’d also send them an email (something in writing) asking why you were not informed about this, forcing them to reply in writing.

    •  

      Yes, I am pretty sure it is going to be much more than 6 months, could be even a year. The engineer guy could see the shock in our eyes and said "they will be here for a considerable amount of time, (softly) at least 6 months." :(

  •  

    Did your neighbour advise the reason for the posts? ie. renovations to your apartment/other/s in the building or due to remedial building works?

    •  

      Remedial works on the roof truss.

      • +4 votes

        So wrong that this was not disclosed to you prior to signing your lease.

        There is a strata living forum that has a Rental Rants section that may be of interest if you want to post for advice in how to proceed.

  • +4 votes

    So they are doing remedial works on the roof directly above you? And nobody informed you. That’s going to be loud. I’d break the lease ASAP

  • +1 vote

    Seeing as they (the owner) knew about this issue they should have disclosed it but then no one would have rented the unit (not your problem).
    Can you ask for a discount on the rent?
    If its not an urgent job you could always ask for the work to be held of till a later date? They could maybe support the roof another way like external beams which would cost more?
    How do you prove that the owner knew before hand will the neighbor go to court as a witness?

    •  

      My neighbor showed me emails that were sent to the owners about the renovation works, so it will be provable. Also, she said she did ask our owner about it (before we moved in) and the owner said that - "yeah, the renters know about it".

  • +1 vote

    Acro-props to hold up the wall and ceiling for increased weight above. Stuck with it until the works are complete. If it's not in the contract and unknown to you upon application, speak with the correct legal team. IE: Victoria - VCAT on advice if you're not getting anywhere with the real estate agent.

  • +2 votes

    So you just leased an ongoing construction site.

    I'd be having words with the property manager.

  • +5 votes

    Always put everything in writing. Never call.

    I'd request a lease break at no cost to you. If not, have a chat to VCAT et Al to see if you can force this upon them

    •  

      Yes, will talk with local tenants union if need be. What do you think about seeking compensation such as reimbursing moving costs? Anyways, will have a chat with my agent and will see where it takes us. Thanks.

  • +15 votes

    when life gives you lemons……

    open your own pole dancing studio.

    profit

    • +2 votes

      Wow, that was almost exactly what I was going to write. Instead, I opted for another line of trolling. Well played, sir.

    • +3 votes

      Haha
      Props to you!

  •  

    We rented an apartment last month.

    Are you one of the following?
    1) royalty
    2) political leader
    3) editor
    4) someone with tapeworms

    • +9 votes

      I would not like to have any more poles at this moment, please :)

      • +4 votes

        That pun was apolling :-(

    •  

      Context is everything!

  • +2 votes

    Contact them - get a paper trail going and come up with a discount on rent for the hassle

    http://www.tenantsrights.org.au/Resources/Renovations/Renova...

    •  

      Had a read, some good advice and clarifications there. Thanks.

  • +4 votes

    My biggest concern would be the construction noise and dust. Your ceiling will vibrate with the work and your apartment will be dusty.

    I'd demand compensation for having to move.

  •  

    Noise will soon follow.

    Dodgey landlord and agent for not disclosing.

  • +3 votes

    First thing I would do is ask them for the engineers design and design certificate for putting the props in. Second I would ask for the contractors certificate stating that they have installed in accordance with the engineers design. This should all happen before they start work. The purpose of a prop is to hold up a load bearing element, in that if it is not done properly it can collapse or at the least cause structural damage. Only then would you know if the property is habitable. If you have issues with this, contact safework australia.

  • +2 votes

    You're living at a structurally unstable construction site. Break your lease and get out. Your landlord is being extremely unprofessional and shady.

    Keep in mind your insurance will not cover you for living on a construction site if anything were to happen unless declared well in advance and agreed to in writing.

    I can't imagine getting structural works done at a property while still having tenants in it. It's just wrong.
    PS- Our builder always locks the site when structural works are taking place and does not allow access to uncertified people who have not been inducted until the works have been completed. Have a chat with the tenancy authority and safe work in your state. Cheers!

    • +1 vote

      I was just thinking the same thing. You will be unable to get contents insurance / it wont cover you. This could be a really good point to bring up with the agent and as such further support for breaking the lease.

  •  

    Break lease

  • +2 votes

    I would ask them to either let you out of the lease/just break the lease and they can argue it in the tribunal (they would likely lose) OR you are entitled to a reduction of rent inline with the loss off amenity that the posts/renovations are expected to bring. You could argue that the living room is almost unusable and maybe get your rent halved or at least a third taken off. The tenancy tribunal in your state would take a pretty dim view of what has just happened.

  • +1 vote

    At the very least you'd be entitled to a rent abatement / reduction for the period in which the props are in place. There is plenty of information online about this, but this is a useful start (at least for NSW tenants): https://www.ncat.nsw.gov.au/Pages/cc/Divisions/Tenancy/tenan....

    If you are committed to ending the lease early, then there is some information here which is helpful (again, for NSW): http://www.tenantsrights.org.au/Resources/Renovations/Renova.... As to the failure to disclose the upcoming repair works, (unfortunately for you) the document notes:

    "Section 26 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 provides that a landlord or agent must not deceptively or misleadingly induce a tenant to enter a tenancy agreement. It also provides that a landlord or agent must provide information set out in the Residential Tenancy Regulations. An agent or landlord who is misleading or deceptive, or did not provide the required information would be in breach of the Act, but not of the tenancy agreement.

    In our experience, “deceptive or misleading” conduct is taken as making untrue statements. It does not mean, as far as the Tribunal or courts are concerned, failing to divulge information that is not specifically asked for. Some material facts must be divulged – but NOT information about upcoming building work."

    Like most things, you should be proactive in dealing with the agent - setting out your concerns in writing at an early stage. If you have any phone calls, take detailed and dated file notes. Good luck.

  •  

    I’d be chasing a breaklease and moving fees. Any chance of a pic?

  • +2 votes

    Hey be big about this and send the poles back to Poland…..touche!!

  •  

    Did the neighbours get any sort of rent reduction?

    •  

      The neighbor I am referring to is an owner.

  •  

    Let the engineers and the agent know that you'll be taking the props down when you need the full use of your living room that you're paying for.
    I don't think they will be able to start work.

  •  

    "Disclosure" "Disclosure" "Disclosure"

    The agent has not disclosed a material item of significance that affects the tenancy

    You have a right to withdraw from the tenancy without any penalty.

  • +6 votes

    Update: Apparently, the agent didn't know anything about this. She said she is talking with the owner, body corporate and senior management (I guess this is above her pay grade) before coming to us to discuss.

    • +6 votes

      Bottom line is - you lost the amenity of the unit. You've lost the equivalent of the living room floor space from your unit, and can't use the space as intended and agreed in the Contract. You have full rights to either:

      1. Demand a rent reduction to the value of the loss of floor area. e.g. if living room is 25m² and the total unit is 50². You are fully within your rights to demand a 50% rent reduction.
      2. You are also fully within your rights to demand a lease break at your convenience, as this is a major breach of the lease agreement you signed.
      3. You can do both. Demand a lease break at your convenience and in the meantime demand a rent reduction until you find a replacement place.

      Do not give up your rights. Do not back down. Stand up to real estate agents and know what you're entitled to. Don't get screwed.

      •  

        I am not very good at bargaining (the irony!) so having a hard time to think about the stand to take and strategies to go for dealing with the agent (along with the 'senior' management's brainstorming). Thanks for giving out some options.
        We have thought about 'significant' rent reduction and going to a month-to-month lease breaking the 1 year one.

        •  

          The fact that they have involved senior management shows they know they're in the wrong. They're on the back foot.

    • +1 vote

      "She said she is talking with the owner, body corporate and senior management before coming to us to discuss."

      I hope that's true. Rental agents…..

  • +1 vote

    Following up on this in case someone needs a historic example. So, the agent/owner was at fault and we had all the possible options- we could get out of the lease if we wanted. However, given the fact that we are passing critical times in our career and finding another place is too much of a hassle, we went for a rent reduction. After some negotiation, we agreed to pay 55% of the current rent. Also, we will be on a month-to-month tenancy as long as the poles are here.

    Thanks for all your responses, much appreciated.