The tenants Benjamin Knight, Hannah Salmon, Cally O’Neill and Jenny McArthur were offered a tenancy on the 7th of December 2017, which was conditional on them paying $1,000 to Quinovic. They did so on the 8th of December, and on the 11th the owner of the property, Mark Roche, sent through the residential tenancy agreement. From this point, there was no evidence of Quinovic having any role in the tenancy.
The tenants went to the Tenancy Tribunal to ask for the $1,000 that they payed to Quinovic to be refunded. This was found not to be key money, but a letting fee, and because the Tenancy Tribunal found this to have been unlawfully charged, $759 of that fee was to be refunded. The remaining $241 was counted as rent paid in advance, as it was paid to the landlord.
On the 22nd of March 2018, the Tenancy Tribunal ruled that Quinovic Property Management Lambton Quay was to immediately pay Benjamin Knight, Hannah Salmon, Cally O’Neill and Jenny McArthur $779.44, covering the $759 letting fee, and a filing fee reimbursement of $20.44.
This is one of those cases where the legal stuff gets very specific and detailed, and it can be a bit much to go through. Essentially, at the time that Quinovic charged the $1,000 fee, they claimed it was a letting fee. But, since they were acting as the landlord at the time, they couldn’t charge a letting fee, as that is something only letting agents can charge. Once the tenants signed the agreement with the owner of the property, Mark Roche, he became the landlord, and Quinovic’s involvement ended.
Here is the official dispute document, which offers a more detailed explanation. This is just a quick summary of that information.
Generally, the more people you get involved in the process of beginning a tenancy, the more complicated it can get. In this case, the addition of Quinovic certainly made things more difficult, especially they only acted as landlord until the owner of the property became involved, and took over as landlord.
As a tenant, it’s hard to look out for these sorts of things, since it can take a bit of digging around in legislation and legal documents to establish whether or not fees being charged are lawful, and it becomes harder to make this distinction when your landlord actually changes in the process of beginning the tenancy.
This dispute is a good example of why it can, sometimes, be a lot easier to manage the process around getting tenants for your rental yourself. Had the owner been involved in advertising the property, showing around potential tenants, and accepting tenants for the tenancy, the letting fee issue may never have arisen, and the whole process would have been a lot smoother.
If you’re looking for a way to streamline your search for tenants, look no further than Proper. Proper is the new end to end renting service, which makes finding tenants quick and easy, and will mean that you’re going to be able to handle everything without ever needing to involve a property manager or letting agent. You can quickly see an overview of potential tenants, and create viewing times for your property. With Proper, being a landlord is easier than ever, saving you precious time and money.