All Topics / Help Needed! / Legal Issue – PM approving repairs without Landlord consent

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  • Profile photo of Joanna - New InvestorJoanna – B
    Join Date: 2011
    Post Count: 11

    Hi All,

    Would be very grateful for your assistance in this legal matter.

    Some time ago our Property Manager approved the installation of the Hot Water System to the fee of $1573 without our approval.

    Section 19 of the NSW RTA states that the agent has the right to act on behalf of the landlord in emergencies for costs up to $1000 without approval when reasonable attempt has to contact the landlord has been made.

    Our Hot Water System, which had recently been repaired, stopped working while I was on leave from work. The Property Manager emailed my work address – to which she would have received an out of office automatic response, and when I didn’t respond – sent another email less than 24 hours later with an invoice stating that she had approved the installation of a new system and additionally approved another $150 of garden maintenance to allow the plumber easier access to the HWS location. 

    I don’t believe reasonable attempt was made to contact me, given that my automatic out of office response stated I was out of the office and provided a phone number I could be reached on, and furthermore the cost of the HWS exceeded $1000 – for which the PM is contractually allowed to approve emergency repairs.

    I have repeatedly requested a copy of the 3 quotes they said they received for the works, and questioned why the company that had previously repaired the HWS wasn’t called to investigate the issue and I have never received a direct response to this query.

    Today (over 12 months later) I have received an email direct from the plumber who installed the Hot Water System, who had been given my email address from the Property Manager (I have since changed agencies – due to their total incompetence). Threatening me with legal action and the removal of the Hot Water System unless I paid in full within 7 days.

    My response to this was:

    • The instruction to install the HWS was from the Property Manager and not me and therefore their threat for legal action should be directed to the agency.
    •  have tried to rectify this issue with the PM/Agency and they have never once responded. Therefore, fair notice of their course of action has not been received.
    • The agency has no legal right to hand out my personal details to their third party suppliers.
    • They require approval to access my property, and if an attempt to remove the HWS without my approval is made, they will be trespassing and stealing.

    Out of Principal I feel quite strongly about sticking to my guns on this, however – I am not a Lawyer and I am unsure if I am barking up the wrong tree. Certainly, I cannot afford the legal fees to fight this in court.

    I would be grateful for your feedback. Hopefully within 7 days prior to them removing the HWS!


    Profile photo of Scott No MatesScott No Mates
    Join Date: 2005
    Post Count: 3,856

    Being out of the office meant to the agency that you were uncontactable, they won’t try too hard as they’ve got better things to do.

    If they did manage to get hold of you, you would have approved the cost anyway.

    As a hws is an emergency repair the agency wouldn’t have got extra quotes but used their trusted plumber.

    As for the plumbers claim, if he has served a notice of dispute under the security of payments legislation in your state he will be protected for his claims.

    The agency agreement also prevents claims against the agent unless they negligected their duty.

    Profile photo of Joanna - New InvestorJoanna – B
    Join Date: 2011
    Post Count: 11

    Thanks for your feedback.

    Not necessarily – if they had of contacted me, I would have asked they contact the plumber who fixed the HWS a couple of months before hand (with a different agency). I don't think one email is a reasonable attempt to make contact – especially given they would have received an automatic out of the office response which would indicate I wouldn't receive it. Therefore, i think they did neglect their duty by not making reasonable attempt to contact us.

    Not picking up the phone to make a phone call is lazy, and I expect more from my managing agency. Furthermore, they stated they got 3 quotes, and when I asked to see them – they were not forthcoming. For all I know, the plumber could have seen this as a nice little opportunity to make money and replaced the whole system!

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