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Bridgeman

Help - Debt collection company chasing for cost of new garage door in rental - is this right?

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I am hoping someone can offer some advice/ insight into the following"

 

Some friends of ours in WA had a rental inspection several months ago and the agents pointed out what appeared to be a couple of small dents in the garage roller door. They hadn't noticed and assumed it must been caused by visitors, workmen or a delivery driver. Nothing further happened until various companies came to provide a quote for the landlord. The general consensus was that as that particular door was no longer manufactured it was not possible to replace the panels and it would need a new garage door. Nothing happened for ages and then they got a call from one of the companies arranging to come and fit a new garage door and they were told the landlord was claiming the cost on the insurance.

 

Yesterday they got a shock when they were called by a very aggressive woman from a debt recovery agency saying that their company had been engaged by the insurance company to recover the cost of replacing the door (around $2,400 dollars!) and that as tenants they were liable for the damage. Surely this can't be right? If the landlord has insurance then surely this should cover the cost? Also, even if this is correct, surely they should only be asked to contribute and not pay for a brand new door, as the property is around 8 years old. Also, surely even if they are liable, then they should only be liable for the cost of a repair, it is not their problem that this type of door is no longer manufactured.

 

They are trying to get advice from the Tenants Advocacy Service but it is currently very difficult to get through to them on the phone and there is a waiting time for appointments apparently. The debt recovery agency informed them that if they paid within 10 days the insurance company would reduce the amount to $2,000.

 

Any advice appreciated.

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They should have recieved letters etc before it got to a debt collector. They can tell the debt collection company that they are going to be disputing it with the rental tribunal as they don't believe it is their debt and they should drop it until such time as its been to the tribunal. Some wear and tear is expected on a property. If it was minor ascetics, not affecting the function of the door, I can't see a tribunal saying they have to pay it. However if it stops the door from being usable, then yes, the cost of putting it right. What happened to their bond?


Has two beautiful Aussie little girls :-)

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I wouldn't pay a penny until they have further advice. Firstly is there a bond on this property? Secondly how do they know the damage wasn't caused by someone trying to break in etc, this to me isn't a clean cut case. If you had a dog and it had chewed the doors then of course they would be liable. It sounds like the owners did claim and now the insurance company are trying to recover their outlay. Get them to prove beyond doubt it was your friends.


If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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I am also confused as to why it went to a debt collector, it is not a debt as there was no loan or agreement. This is a claim for damages, which should go through another procedure altogether, like a small claims court.

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They should have recieved letters etc before it got to a debt collector. They can tell the debt collection company that they are going to be disputing it with the rental tribunal as they don't believe it is their debt and they should drop it until such time as its been to the tribunal. Some wear and tear is expected on a property. If it was minor ascetics, not affecting the function of the door, I can't see a tribunal saying they have to pay it. However if it stops the door from being usable, then yes, the cost of putting it right. What happened to their bond?

 

Yes, it is was just a couple of small dents, only visible in a certain light - they hadn't even noticed as they just drive in and out of the garage. They use the internet a lot for buying stuff ad have a lot of stuff delivered, so they think it might have been a delivery driver, post van etc. The landlord has the property up for sale which is why it was done through the insurance apparently and they have been given notice to move out middle of July so haven't had the bond back yet.

Edited by blossom
Fixing quote

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So they have had no letters asking them to pay or anything?

I was advised by a consumer advice thingy that if a debt collector called they had to be able to show you owe the money. You can ask them for that proof. And of course there will be non as no residential tenancy tribunal would make them pay full replacement price for a non new, only cosmetically damaged garage door. If you tell them it is going to a tribunal then they HAVE to leave you alone until that has happened. And until you have official letters saying you owe and what for it can't even get to a tribunal. Interestingly he also said that legally they can't add a fee only whatever you owe.


Has two beautiful Aussie little girls :-)

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These debt agencies will try it on, but action is necessary by the tenants to prevent it all escalating.

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What makes me wonder with this debt collector's call: Where did this aggressive woman get the names of your friends + phone number from? Actually their landlord has to inform your friends before doing so as otherwise it's a breach of the Privacy Act!

 

Seems to me that a dodgy landlord blinded by greed tries to manipulate your friends in order to keep a clear insurance record. Or just tries to take advantage out of new migrants.

 

Your friends will have a 'lot of fun' when they are going to move out and reclaim the bond.


IELTS 01/2011; TRA 03/2011; SS SA 05/2011; visa 176 lodged 06/2011; visa granted 08/2011; arrived in Adelaide 02/2012; Australian citizen 08/2016

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Welcome to Australia.

A few years ago i applied to my bank for a car loan only to be told i had a debt recorded in my name from 3 years earlier.I had lived in the same property 5 years and had never had any letters or knowledge of this.I got a credit report sent to me to find out who the debt was from and called the bailiff company listed which was in the same suburb as me.

The lady on the phone was outright rude and wouldn't tell me anything but arranged for a bailiff to call round.

A bailiff came round and was invited in to sort this out where he went about writing down, TV,car,furniture etc.I asked him to tell me who the debt was owed to and how much.He said $1000 to a old girlfriend who said i owed her for half of a holiday.The lady (i use the term loosely) in question had been told our relationship was over and she attempted to repair the relationship by booking a holiday and sending me the ticket which i sent back and said no thanks we have been over more than a few months.

So unbeknown to me she filed a debt against me to go to court which no paperwork was ever served.They did not want to know anything about the 3 years later where i was unaware all that time of the debt against my name which had incurred costs over the years ? bringing the final debt to $1500 which i was told if i didn't pay within 7 days would be more.

In hindsight i should of sought legal advice but just payed it to make it all go away.Then had to go to court to get her to drop the debt even though i had receipt from the bailiff for much more than the so called debt.

This is Australia where anything can happen and does.

Edited by dodgy

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Bridgeman: if your friends are contacted again by the debt collectors and their staff member can't give proof of any written claims mailed to your friends in regards to this matter like mentioned before by the other users, your friends have to tell them that they have breached the Australian Privacy Act (and maybe Industry standards as well) and they will make them liable for that and announce this unlawful invasion of privacy to the appropriate WA Authorities.

You told us that your friend were supposedly threatened with asserts without substance now your mates have to bluster back!


IELTS 01/2011; TRA 03/2011; SS SA 05/2011; visa 176 lodged 06/2011; visa granted 08/2011; arrived in Adelaide 02/2012; Australian citizen 08/2016

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Dodgy: Why didn't you get the court's paperwork? I thought that's mandatory. I would contest any wrong claims against me.

 

What sounds a little bit weird to me is the fact you mentioned the bailiff claimed you owned your ex half of the holiday but if you haven't signed any contracts with the travel agency and obviously the travel agency send all travel documents to your ex's address you're not liable anyway.

 

If you haven't signed anything and haven't given written consent to something you're not liable even in Australia. Obviously this weirdo sweared to took vengeance and was successful with that. Who knows with how many other ex-partners she played that 'game'.

Edited by silencio

IELTS 01/2011; TRA 03/2011; SS SA 05/2011; visa 176 lodged 06/2011; visa granted 08/2011; arrived in Adelaide 02/2012; Australian citizen 08/2016

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Like i said in hindsight i should have got legal advice.But when you have a bailiff standing in your home adding up possessions and saying its been to court and nothing for me to do but pay up or the cost will go up each time he comes and he can legally take things to the value to auction off.And wasn't interested in the 3 years + where i was unaware of anything to do with the case etc.

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Hi Bridgeman, I am based in VIC so if WA follows the same process, you should ask your friends to involve http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/renting-home instead of/on top of Tenancy WA. First, call the agent who did the lease agreement in behalf of the landlord and clarify if the debt collectors are from the landlord. As your friend would have signed a lease agreement that was drafted by the agent, they should be the ones who your friends are talking to and not any other third party/not even the landlord. If the agent confirms that the landlord has sent the debt collectors, tell them that the usual and only procedure to go through this is to take the cost from the bond. Which then will require both parties (your friends and the agent/landlord) to agree. Any disagreement on the value of the bond returned should be brought to the link I provided above. In Victoria, claims like this one goes to VCAT and gets decided on the merits. It's really odd a debt collector is involved in this. I would think the debt collector will only pop up after it has gone through the usual channels and a figure has been agreed upon and your friend have refused to pay.

 

Last May, I had exactly the same issue with a client who was moving out from an apartment to move in to one I found him. The landlord/agent did the same thing and wanted to have the electric roller door replaced because of a small dent on one panel in the interior. It went to VCAT and they were told by the magistrate to settle it out of court up with a max figure of $600. The landlord/agent initially demanded $3,500.


Melbourne Rental Advocate. Helping you find your rental home. Move in to your rental home on the day you arrive in Melbourne.

Finders Keepers Rental Property Locators - a member of Australian British Chamber of Commerce - VIC

 

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Hi Bridgeman, I am based in VIC so if WA follows the same process, you should ask your friends to involve http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/renting-home instead of/on top of Tenancy WA. First, call the agent who did the lease agreement in behalf of the landlord and clarify if the debt collectors are from the landlord. As your friend would have signed a lease agreement that was drafted by the agent, they should be the ones who your friends are talking to and not any other third party/not even the landlord. If the agent confirms that the landlord has sent the debt collectors, tell them that the usual and only procedure to go through this is to take the cost from the bond. Which then will require both parties (your friends and the agent/landlord) to agree. Any disagreement on the value of the bond returned should be brought to the link I provided above. In Victoria, claims like this one goes to VCAT and gets decided on the merits. It's really odd a debt collector is involved in this. I would think the debt collector will only pop up after it has gone through the usual channels and a figure has been agreed upon and your friend have refused to pay.

 

Last May, I had exactly the same issue with a client who was moving out from an apartment to move in to one I found him. The landlord/agent did the same thing and wanted to have the electric roller door replaced because of a small dent on one panel in the interior. It went to VCAT and they were told by the magistrate to settle it out of court up with a max figure of $600. The landlord/agent initially demanded $3,500.

 

Thanks for that, that's really helpful. I will pass it on. Just to update in case it helps anyone else. They finally managed to speak to someone from the tenants advice organisation. Their advice was that as they did not cause the damage they are not liable and if the insurance want to claim from them then the onus is on the insurance company to prove that our friends caused the damage. The tenants advice agency also told them to contest it with the insurance agency and gave them the wording to use. They also found out that the letting agents were unaware of what had happened and when they contacted them were told the agents didn't hold them liable. They have asked for this in writing from the agents. Thanks to everyone for their input.

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Thanks for that, that's really helpful. I will pass it on. Just to update in case it helps anyone else. They finally managed to speak to someone from the tenants advice organisation. Their advice was that as they did not cause the damage they are not liable and if the insurance want to claim from them then the onus is on the insurance company to prove that our friends caused the damage. The tenants advice agency also told them to contest it with the insurance agency and gave them the wording to use. They also found out that the letting agents were unaware of what had happened and when they contacted them were told the agents didn't hold them liable. They have asked for this in writing from the agents. Thanks to everyone for their input.

That is very positive news, thanks for updating us.


If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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Positive news indeed. It is scary how many dodgy landlords try it on here. Am really looking forward to when I finish renting and get back to my own house... stories like this are really frightening and certainly in Queensland it feels like you have very little protection when landlords behave in this way.

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Just as an aside note my son a recent Uni graduate has just recently moved out of a rental. Place was spotless and no damage did all the right things giving notice etc. Waited several weeks for return of bond after getting a positive inspection report he recieved a letter saying he owed them ongoing rent due to breaking the lease. There was no lease it had expeired 3 months previously at which time he told agents he would not be renewing as he was moving in with his partner in 3 months time. Took it to tribunal and he won with bond plus costs awarded to him. Lesson learned fight it if you are right don't just roll over.

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Just a further update on this. They have now moved out of the rental and the agents have told them that they are only responsible for the excess on the insurance policy - $200 - which is fair enough. This will be deducted from the bond. Although still awaiting confirmation that the debt recovery company are not still chasing.

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Just sounds like another dodgy landlord trying it on. Send in the debt collectors to put the frighteners on the tenant and hope they will just cave in and pay. $2400 for a garage door is just ridiculous anyway.


Loving life in Gods Country. Woohoo, look at me. 

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When we were renting in Australia just before we bought our house the landlord took a carpet cleaning charge out of our bond even though the carpets were spotless. He said he just does it as a matter of course. I doubt he actually had them cleaned, it's just a rort.


Loving life in Gods Country. Woohoo, look at me. 

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When we were renting in Australia just before we bought our house the landlord took a carpet cleaning charge out of our bond even though the carpets were spotless. He said he just does it as a matter of course. I doubt he actually had them cleaned, it's just a rort.

 

You should have had them cleaned yourself and then handed in the carpet cleaning receipt with keys. You would have got all of your bond back then.

 

Some REA's try to tell you that they must be professionally cleaned. There may be a clause in the rental agreement to that effect.


From Kilmarnock, now in Melbourne :-)

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You should have had them cleaned yourself and then handed in the carpet cleaning receipt with keys. You would have got all of your bond back then.

 

Some REA's try to tell you that they must be professionally cleaned. There may be a clause in the rental agreement to that effect.

 

We had already cleaned all the carpets and told the landlord, he just said it was his policy to do them professionally. Wasn't worth the hassle at the time as we were moving into our house. We should have challenged it but had bigger fish to fry at the time.


Loving life in Gods Country. Woohoo, look at me. 

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When we were renting in Australia just before we bought our house the landlord took a carpet cleaning charge out of our bond even though the carpets were spotless. He said he just does it as a matter of course. I doubt he actually had them cleaned, it's just a rort.

 

It'd pretty standard to have carpets cleaned before a new tenant moves in.

 

Generally it has to be done by a professional cleaning company which the vacating tenant pays for.

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It'd pretty standard to have carpets cleaned before a new tenant moves in.

 

Generally it has to be done by a professional cleaning company which the vacating tenant pays for.

 

When the carpets are spotless and have been cleaned it's a rort. I doubt they were actually cleaned again.


Loving life in Gods Country. Woohoo, look at me. 

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