No Running Water in Rental for 5 Days, Landlord Will Not Compensate?

Hi All,

Recently a water main burst in our apartment complex resulting in our apartment being uninhabitable for 5 days as we had no running water.

No attempt was made by the landlord or property manager to offer alternative accommodation or help during this time (despite us asking) and we were forced to moved out.

Water has since been restored and we have moved back in however we have requested a reduction of 5 days for the period that water was unavailable.

Both the landlord and property manager have rejected our request claiming this is outside of the landlords control and suggested we contact the owners corp for compensation.

Given the landlord owns the relationship with the owners corporation (not us, the tenant) shouldn't they be seeking compensation for lost income?

Seems completely unreasonable that we have been effectively booted out of our apartment with no support over the Easter long weekend and now have to go on a wild goose chase seeking compensation from the owners corp.

We are not asking for an ongoing reduction or compensation for cost we incurred relocating, we are just asking for a reduction for the period where there was no running water.

We are paying month to month and both have secure jobs so we are actually blown away that in this climate they are not being reasonable whatsover (especially considering we were planning on extending for another 6 months!!)

What are your thoughts ozbargain? Are we being unreasonable or are we getting screwed over?

Poll Options

  • 11
    Move out
  • 23
    Reasonable response from REA / Landlord
  • 103
    Getting screwed over

Comments

  • +21

    VCAT.

    I'd be requesting more than a 5-day reduction. I'd request the costs incurred too.

    • +8

      👆🏻 This. 5 days' rent reduction + all reasonable costs incurred due to the move. I would recommend contacting tenants vic first before taking any legal action. They have lawyers on hand to answer your questions and give advice on the best course of action.

  • +3

    seems like your only option may be the Tribunal, if the owner is being unhelpful. And yes, I think you should move if you can.

    https://www.tenants.org.au/factsheet-22-disaster-damage

  • +15

    What a jerk.

    It's a contract. If they can't provide habitable accommodation you shouldn't have to pay. But you might need to go to the Tribunal to sort it out. Whatever you do, don't stop paying rent.

    https://www.tenants.org.au/factsheet-06-repairs-and-maintena...

    • +1

      don’t stop paying rent

      I second this bit. It’s so important that you keep paying rent. No matter what happens or how angry you get, if you go to tribunal (and you definitely should), and they find out you’ve even threatened to stop paying rent, they’ll find in their favour not yours.

    • +1

      Ahhh so you're that stinky colleague I often hear about.

    • +1

      Serious question: can someone please explain why this comment is considered incorrect?

      • I didn't neg either.

      • +5

        If you didn’t have runnning water for 5 days would you live there? If not, it’s uninhabitable.

        If it’s uninhabitable, LL has a problem as they are leasing out a property for living. The risks of property is with the LL, as they are taking the rent for promise of service. LL needs to stump up, and claim thru their own LL insurance or follow up claim with owners corp (as per REA) advice.

      • +5

        Serious question: can someone please explain why this comment is considered incorrect?

        In a chain of services one should only have to deal with their immediate service provider.

        In this case each service provider is responsible for escalating the issue ie Tenant > Property Manager > Landlord > Owner's Corporation. The Property Manager is shirking their responsibility.

    • +3

      Why it is the owners responsibility: Because the renter has a contract with the owner, for a house, in an acceptable condition. If it is not in acceptable/livable condition, then it is not as per contract. Does it matter to the renter, if the owner's service provider Or the owner themselves who are responsible.

      Taking your analogy to another service if NBN connection is not up to the mark because of poor infrastructure, your service provider should continue to bill you for the promised services, because NBN network is not under their control.
      Thats amazing sense of customer service and responsibility.

      • -1

        Your NBN analogy is OK except you are not accounting for things that are temporary and outside the control of the provider. Let says a backhoe cuts through a cable, and your speed drops from 50Mb to 10Mb. Does this deserve a refund? It's not the provider's fault, it's not really NBN's fault, and you haven't lost all functionality; just some.
        Not having running water is a major inconvenience. Uninhabitable? Doubt it.
        You could always but some 10 litre water bottles for drinking, cooking, and flushing number 1's. Number 2's is a bit harder, but you could always go somewhere else.
        Again, I accept it is a major inconvenience, but it's not like to roof blew off and the rain is coming in!

  • Did you get renter insurance?

  • +7

    Vote with your feet. You'll likely never find a better time where the odds are in the renter's favour. Depending where in Vic you are you may find there are some good deals around and better than your current situation. I track properties on the realestate.com app and properties are constantly being offered at reduced rates.

  • +2

    Few years ago, water corp sent me bottled water when they had unplanned outages.

  • Go by what the lease agreement dictates.

    Virtually every lease agreement I've seen (and signed) in my life included a provision that if any urgent repairs for essential services/utilities are unable to be provided in a timely manner (usually 24 hours, sometimes 48 hours), then the lessor/landlord is considered to be in breach of the agreement and the tenant is within their rights to demand reimbursement for losses/damages or repairs they've arranged to be carried out.

  • +4

    The water outtage wasn't caused by the landlord either directly or through negligence.

    These are just issues of living in a highrise.

    Put it this way, if you owned the apartment, is there anything you could have done to prevent this disruption to your water supply?

    • +3

      You aren't providing a service for money if you're living in your own apartment. Water is considered an essential service in rentals for obvious reasons.

      • -5

        Leasing a building isn't providing a service.

        Leasing a building, in this case, an apartment is providing accommodation. Both landlord and tenant living in a building are both living there for accommodation.

        The accommodation is subject to all the problems of said type of accommodation.

        • +7

          Sorry, you're wrong. When you provide accomodation under a lease, you are under legal obligations to the tenant.

          Not going to bother arguing about it. OP - just take them to tribunal.

          • -5

            @lunchbox99:

            you are under legal obligations to the tenant.

            Yes, there are legal obligations.

            No, the obligations are not infinite.

            • +12

              @tshow: Nobody said they were infinite.

              The owner is providing a service to the tenant, that service being accomodation. If that water is not provided and it is deemed essential utility (which this is) then the tenant is able to claim compensation from the landlord. It doesn't matter that the landlord did not cause the issue. The tenants legal relationship is with the landlord.

              Of course, the landlord may have their own claim against another party. That's not the tenants problem.

    • +1

      No but you would have recourse through the body corp for costs incurred. Just think about what kind of inconvenience it would be for 5 days before you go off all Stalin on us, no showers, washing hands (we're in a crisis where this is very important), no clean dishes to eat from, NO FLUSHING TOILETS etc.

      • -4

        No but you would have recourse through the body corp for costs incurred.

        Exactly.

        Not sure what mad socialist has to do with a body corp or a bust pipe though.

        • +13

          The landlord/RE has the relationship with the BC, not the tenant. Stop passing the buck.

      • +1

        On the plus side, no need for TP.

  • No attempt was made by the landlord or property manager to offer alternative accommodation

    Is this actually a thing if it was out of the LL control?

  • +4

    "Both the landlord and property manager have rejected our request claiming this is outside of the landlords control and suggested we contact the owners corp for compensation."

    That seems like a pretty good idea really. Why did it take five days? What did the Owner Corp say on Day 1 when you complained? I'd be hitting them up for compensation or at least pushing them to get things like that fixed much quicker.

    According to Tenants Union

    "If a problem is clearly on common property, write to the owners corporation or their managing agent and ask for repairs to be done immediately. Send a copy of the letter to your landlord (or their real estate agent). Ask the landlord to take action to make sure the owners corporation does the repairs. Keep copies of all letters.

    If the landlord does not chase up the owners corporation to do common-property repairs, you can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for an order to have the repairs done. In your application you should argue that your landlord’s obligation to do repairs includes getting the owners corporation to do repairs."

    So did you write the the owners corp to get the issue fixed?

    • Water mains are not common property, they are water authority assets and only they can fix it.

      • +2

        Yes but it's still on common property. (managed by body corp, fixed by water authority)

        • So if a meteor strikes and destroys half the building making it unliveable, The landlord is still responsible for compensation? I don’t think so.

          • +1

            @mrvaluepack: If the meteor strikes and the property is uninhabitable. Is the tenant still liable for rent during the period they can't live there?

            • @ranap: Same thing applies to ops situation. Dont want to pay rent, dont live there.

      • Wrong. It depends if it is before or after the boundary line and where that boundary is.

        • I used to work for 2 water authorities and you are wrong. Its always to the first isolation valve after the meter and its always usually inside the boundaries of peoples properties. If you call a plumber to try and fix the problem, they wont touch it because its a water main.

          • @mrvaluepack: You are partially correct, it is the first isolation valve but not after the meter. By way of an application most licenced plumbers can do the work, if it involves an infrastructure upgrade then it has to be done by an authority accredited plumber and generally as a part of this application process it will define where the connection is made - the isolation valve can be across the road, it can be in the basement of the building, it can be in a cupboard on the street - each situation is different. The reason I said boundary was because in my experience in most instances the isolation valves have been at the boundary. I actually build these things onsite and I can tell you water authorities have no idea, they don't exactly employ the cream of the crop.

  • +2

    Would suggest to look at the Strata Insurance. Realistically this should be the job of the Landlord or Property Manager but since they are not helpful, you would gain more by contacting the Strata manager yourself….

  • +2

    Anyone remember back in 1998 when half of VIC had no gas for several weeks?

  • +1

    whoever is responsible for the water leak/main is who you should be chasing for compensation

  • This was not within the landlords control. Water mains is water authority responsibility . You should be going to them instead.

  • +3

    I am not sure if the commenters here who asked the OP to contact the Strata have ever lived in an rental. My personal experience has been that strata managers do not even respond to a query from a renter, leave alone discuss any financials. The strata manager works on behalf of the owners of the property, unless the property owners think it is worthwhile to claim insurance, they would not even bother.
    On serious thoughts, how many of these commenters would tell the renters at Opal towers to get screwed with no reductions in rent when that was uninhabitable, because clearly it was the developers faulty product which caused the issue. The owner was not at fault.

  • Whose name is on the water bill?

  • water main burst in our apartment complex

    Mains are located on crown land. The pipes that go into the private properties are lead-in. The property owners are responsible for the maintenance and any costs associated with lead-in.

  • Contact your local community legal service and ask, one of the lawyers will be able to advise you. Other free legal services include Victoria Legal Aid (they take a while to get through on the phone, but they will answer eventually) and Tenants Victoria. They normally have a backlog of work so they will only take on the most urgent cases where the client has no resources, however they will always be happy to give you advice over the phone.

  • Option 4. VCAT.

  • You deserve a lot more than just a five day reduction. I'm shocked the landlord and agent didn't jump at your low request knowing they're liable for more.

  • tenant is paying for the water which is a service from a third party. they should be asking their water company for some sort of compensation if its damage before the meter or from the body corp.

  • +1

    If I was a landlord with a tenant paying full rent and not going for a Coronavirus rent deal I wouldn't be quibbling about 5 days.

  • As you say, it's not unreasonable for the landlord to waive rent in the current climate.

    However, I'm not so sure that that the place was actually uninhabitable. (NSW source)

    Rights of residential tenants when premises are rendered uninhabitable

    1.Premises being habitable is sometimes viewed as meaning that the state of the premises does not represent a threat to the life, limb or health of the tenant;
    2.To find that the premises are not habitable the Tribunal would have to be satisfied that there is a threat to the tenant’s safety, going to both structural and health issues;…

  • +2

    It is not the landlord's fault but given the circumstances I think the right thing to do is for the landlord to waive 5 days rent.

    If the OP is in a position to get out of the lease I would think that is a good idea. You wouldn't want to be screwed over again in the future if something else happens.

    The landlord is set to lose heaps more than 5 days rent from re-leasing and advertising fees.

  • -1

    THIS is your biggest problem right now? Sux to be you.
    Edit: A lot of landlords are miserly horrible people when it comes to money.

  • What are your thoughts ozbargain?

    My thoughts are - thanks for joining OzB to share this delicious dilemma with us.

    Tenant vs landlord ……. it brings out all the experts.

Login or Join to leave a comment