Home owner fined $11k
A PROPERTY owner who conducted renovations and changed the locks while her elderly tenant was gravely ill in hospital has been ordered to pay $11,097 in fines by Fremantle Magistrates Court.
The Munster woman, a former real estate agent, was found guilty of contravening two offences under the Residential Tenancies Act, fined $3000 and ordered to pay $8907 in costs.
In February 2015 she contacted the tenant’s power of attorney to organise a viewing of the property by prospective buyers, and to undertake bathroom renovations.
No consent was given by the tenant or the tenant’s power of attorney.
Despite the tenant’s refusal, the owner organised for the locks to be changed and illegally took possession of the property to carry out extensive renovations while the lease was in place.
The tenant, or her power of attorney, could access the property to recover personal belongings such as clothes and medication.
An application to the Magistrates Court had to be made by the tenant’s power of attorney for access to the property.
The 87-year-old tenant, who had rented the property since 1985, died in June 2015.
Consumer Protection lawyers told the Court the actions were opportunistic, taking advantage of the tenant being in hospital.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said this case demonstrated the necessity of the strict laws governing the owner’s access to a rental property.