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Tenancy matters
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            >  Where non-functioning television connection not noted

Where non-functioning television connection not noted 

A landlord must complete, at or before the time a tenancy agreement is given to a tenant, an ingoing inspection report of a premise’s condition. Failure to complete an incoming inspection report at the commencement of a tenancy both breaches regulations and creates difficulties for a landlord who later seeks to provide evidence of the condition of the premises at the commencement of a tenancy.

During an inspection, a prospective tenant asked the landlord about the television connection. She was informed there was a television and cable connection, and shown the connection socket. She was also assured that everything was in working order.

A few days after moving in the tenant discovered the television did not work. She contacted the landlord, who employed a tradesperson to secure the television antenna back on the roof by replacing the bracket on the antenna. However, the tradesperson said he was sure that the antenna would not work because it was broken. The tenant repeatedly tried to contact the landlord, but the landlord was overseas at the time and the landlord’s daughter advised the tenant she would send the tradesperson out to have another look. There followed a number of letters and emails regarding the television antenna and whether it formed part of the tenancy.

In numerous cases, the Tribunal has placed greater weight on a tenant’s evidence concerning the condition of premises at the commencement of a lease, in circumstances where a landlord has failed to prepare a condition report and provide it to the tenant.

The Tribunal found that the landlord failed to comply with her obligation regarding the incoming inspection report. Instead, the landlord handed the tenant a blank incoming inspection report, which the tenant completed five days after the tenancy commenced. The report clearly indicated that the television connection was not working on that date.

The Tribunal was satisfied that a working television connection formed part of the tenancy agreement. It found that a reasonable person inspecting premises, seeing a television connection in the wall and asking the landlord if all “services” were working would reasonably presume this included a working television connection. The Tribunal held that use of the word “services” generally or “television” specifically was immaterial.

The Tribunal held that it was the landlord’s onus to ensure the tenant was not misled into believing a service existed if it did not. A television outlet was visible and there had been a discussion between the parties about services. The landlord should have informed the tenant that the connection did not work or did not form part of the agreement, if that were the case. The landlord could have done so orally, but more importantly, should have done so via the incoming inspection report.

Although the television connection was found to form part of the tenancy, it did not warrant a reduction in rent. The Tribunal ordered the landlord to repair the television connection.

Mahony v Angelos (Tenancy) [2010] NSWCTTT 52