Neighbours at war over a parking space, the shifting of wheelie bins and the use of security cameras culminated in a “violent assault” and a complaint with the rental watchdog.
The Tenancy Tribunal recently heard the tangled story of two neighbouring rental properties and the landlord of the houses who also lived on the street.
In a decision published by the authority, it set out how Tenants A moved into one of the rentals in April 2021 and behind them, in the other rental, were Tenants B, who had been living there for some time. None of the parties are able to be identified due to legal reasons.
After tenants A moved out of the property in December last year, they turned to the tribunal with claims of harassment by their landlord.
In seeking $33,100 for compensation and exemplary damages, they alleged tenants B had hassled them on multiple occasions, launched a “violent assault” upon them, and that the landlord had encouraged that “behaviour”.
They also accused the property manager of attempting to change their tenancy agreement, showing no concern for their welfare following the assault and attempting to influence the police investigation.
But the tribunal has rejected their allegations and stated their claims did not amount to harassment and they had in fact contributed to the events about which they complained.
The drama on the street, the identity of which was not made known in the decision, began over a parking space that belonged to tenants B but was being used by tenants A - with permission.
When tenants B withdrew their consent to tenants A using it, the property manager wrote to tenants A reminding them of who the space belonged to.
They responded by writing to the landlord, the property manager and tenants B, expressing their surprise at no longer being able to park in the area. In their letter, they said there had been a deterioration in their relationship with tenants B and suggested it was because tenants B were using drugs.
In June, tenants A emailed the property manager’s employer and asked about the parking clauses in the tenancy agreements. They claimed the property manager was “biased and not thorough” in her work.
The following month, and in a move to prevent tenants A from using the parking space, tenants B shifted their wheelie bins into the area.
When tenants A attempted to move the bins, they were “assaulted” by tenants B. The police were called and charges were laid against tenants B. One of their bail conditions was to not use the parking space except to put their wheelie bins there.
Lengthy emails were then exchanged between tenants A and the landlord over the parking issue. The landlord suggested a temporary fence be erected in order to set clear boundaries, but tenants A rejected the idea and said they would turn away any workers who turned up to build the fence.
Then in September, tenants B served a trespass notice on tenants A.
The following month, the landlord drove onto the parking space to collect her dog which was staying at the property of tenants B. One of those tenants helped lift the dog into the landlord’s car.
Tenants A spotted what was happening and reported it to police, claiming tenants B had breached their bail terms.
Still aggrieved, tenants A then sent the landlord a 14-day notice requiring them to leave a gate next to the parking area open so it could be used as an “emergency exit”, and further ordered the landlord to not access the rental property more than twice a week.
They also asked that tenants B remove a security camera set up on their gate, claiming it was able to see into their windows.
Tenants B had eight security cameras in total, but only two were a problem for tenants A, who were concerned they were being watched by their neighbours in a “deeply discourteous and alarming way.”
Shortly afterwards, the landlord served both tenants A and B with a 90-day notice terminating their tenancies. The notice stated they planned to convert the premises to commercial use and that both sets of tenants had until January this year to move out.
Over the following weeks, the issues between the two rental properties continued and tenants A eventually gave the landlord a notice to end their tenancy earlier. By December 5, they were gone.
After hearing the longwinded saga, the Tenancy Tribunal dismissed all applications made by tenants A.
The authority found their allegations did not constitute any real breach of the landlord’s obligations or amount to harassment.