Last year an Aboriginal family in Coffs Harbour with seven kids had their lives disrupted by building work. The family was renting a house on a large block in northern NSW. The landlord decided to redevelop the land by building another house on the block.
In NSW tenancy law, the landlord could not have access to the block for the building purpose without the tenants’ consent. The landlord went ahead without asking for consent.
The tenants were annoyed enough to apply to the Tribunal for compensation and rent reduction. The Tribunal made directions for exchange of evidence. The tenants obtained some advice from an Aboriginal TAAS (Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service) about the evidence needed.
At the hearing, the Tribunal saw and heard the evidence. It was clear that the landlord and the builders had interfered with the tenants’ peace comfort and privacy. The landlord had breached the tenancy agreement by taking access without consent. Further, amenity of the premises had been withdrawn by the landlord, by taking away part of the yard and causing noise, dust and other interruptions.
An advocate from the Aboriginal TAAS assisted the tenants at the hearing and the Tribunal awarded compensation of $13 100 in total - $7 500 for non-economic loss and rent reduction of $4 600 and $1000 for excessive rent.
The tenants achieved a good result with the assistance of an Aboriginal Tenants Advocate and the Tenants’ Union is proud to have provided back-up legal advice to the advocate.