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Dispute Resolution

INTERNAL & EXTERNAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION INFORMATION
Votiva INTERNAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION Scheme
This IDR service is provided free of charge to you
KATERSON PTY LTD t/as VOTIVA Finance [ABN 49 062 479 341]  Australian Credit License Number 390982
We believe that it is essential for our clients to be able to identify and deal with a broker who has the ability, authority and proper training to hear and respond appropriately to any complaints or disputes.
We are a member of the Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) and as such we are also subject to the requirement to have in place an Internal Dispute Resolution procedure.
Receiving complaints
You can lodge complaints by contacting Karen Anderson, the Complaints Officer by:
·                    telephoning 02 8850 9600
·                    e-mailing karen.anderson@votiva.com.au
·                    writing to P.O Box 7404, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153
or by speaking to any representative of our business who will refer you to the Complaints Officer.
You should explain the details of your complaint as clearly as you can. You may do this verbally or in writing.
When we receive a complaint, we will attempt to resolve it promptly. We hope that in this way we will stop any unnecessary and inappropriate escalation of minor complaints.
We will observe the following principles in handling your complaint:
  1. there is no requirement for face-to-face contact between you and us, although it may be useful for us to come to a satisfactory resolution;
  2. we expect that both parties will make a genuine attempt to resolve a complaint promptly;
  3. we expect that both parties will provide all essential and relevant information, documents, written statements and any other materials that may properly and reasonably be believed to assist in resolving the complaint;
  4. we expect that both parties will comply with all reasonable requests from the other party to provide information within a reasonable time frame.
 
Votiva EXTERNAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION scheme
If we do not reach agreement on your complaint, you may refer the complaint to an ASIC Approved External Dispute Resolution (EDR) Scheme. Our external dispute resolution provider is COSL (Credit Ombudsman Services Limited) phone 1800 138 422, www.cosl.com.au External dispute resolution is a free service established to provide you with an independent mechanism to resolve specific complaints.
This summary does not comprise legal advice and we do not accept any responsibility for it.

About Us

Votiva Realty is an independent, real estate rental agency. Our office is based in Springwood, Brisbane.

We are an agency that specialises in looking after property investors. We help investors manage their existing investment properties and invest further.

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Tenant FAQs

Q: Once I have applied to rent one of the offered properties, how soon will I hear from the Property Manager regarding a possible approval as a tenant?

A: Once the completed and signed application for all prospective occupants have been received by our Property Management Department, the application/s will be processed without delay and all given information checked and required references requested. Depending on referees returning requested information, the process could be speedy or take a little longer. To avoid delays we will inform you about the progress of the processing of your application. Sometimes applicants can help to obtain the required information from previous lessors/agents. You should hear from our Property Manager within 48 hours of submitting the application as to whether approval is possible.

 

Q: When do I need to sign the lease and pay the bond and rent in advance after I have been approved for a tenancy?

A: The Property Manager will invite you to come to our office within 24 hours after being approved to sign the lease agreement and pay the bond and rent in advance required to secure the tenancy.

All Applicants need to sign the documents required for the tenancy.

 

Q: How can I pay the bond and rent in advance?

A: The bond and rent in advance may be paid by bank cheque, money order or bank transfer via DEFT if sufficient time is allowed prior to the commencement of the tenancy. We are not able to accept cash or personal cheques to make these payments.

 

Q: Who pays for water consumed at the rental property?

A: You can be charged full water consumption costs if the property is water efficient and separately metered. You need to pay water charges to the Agent within 30 days of invoice date.

 

Q: Electricity / gas / phone / internet – Who pays for these connections?

A: The tenants pay for all of these costs unless stated otherwise in the tenancy agreement. This means you need to contact service providers and arrange connection.

 

Q: Who looks after repairs and maintenance at the property?

A: The tenants are responsible for looking after the property and keeping it and any inclusions (like the oven, for example) clean. You should not carry out repairs without written consent. You are responsible to inform the Agent of any repairs or maintenance necessary. The Agent organizes maintenance repairs on behalf of the property owner. Either the Agent or contractors will request access to the property to carry out repairs required.

If you or your guests damage the property, you may have to pay for the repairs.

 

Q: Who is responsible to replace light bulbs?

A: The Lessor is responsible for maintaining specialised bulbs, and the tenant is responsible for the replacement of everyday bulbs.

If changing a bulb requires specialist knowledge or specialist equipment, changing the bulb may be part of the lessor’s responsibility to maintain the premises. Please ask your Property Manager to arrange for an electrician to change any specialised light bulbs.

 

Q: I have replaced the not working light bulb with a brand new bulb, the light is still not working

A: If you have attempted to exchange light bulbs and used a new quality bulb and the light is not working, this could mean, that the light fitting is faulty. In this case please do not attempt to check the light and notify your Property Manager in writing so that an electrician can be arranged to check the light. (May we suggest to make sure the new bulb is in good condition via checking it in a different light fitting).

 

Q: Are tenants allowed to add fixtures to the property?

A: Fixtures can only be added with the Agent’s written consent. Please ask your Property Manager in writing of any changes you wish to make at the property, this also includes picture hooks and other items fixed to walls or furnishings. Should you install a fixture or make a structural change without written permission, you can be asked to pay to reinstate the property to the original condition.

 

Q: What are emergency repairs?

A: Emergency repairs are repairs for:

  • a burst water service or a serious water service leak
  • a blocked or broken lavatory service
  • a serious roof leak
  • a gas leak
  • a dangerous electrical fault
  • flooding or serious flood damage
  • serious storm, fire or impact damage
  • a failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply to the premises
  • a failure or breakdown of an essential service or hot water, cooking or heating appliance
  • a fault or damage that makes the premises unsafe or insecure
  • a fault or damage likely to injure a person, damage property or unduly inconvenience a resident of the premises
  • a serious fault in a staircase, lift or other common area or premises that unduly inconveniences a resident in gaining access to, or using, the premises

All other repairs are considered to be routine repairs.

 

Q: What am I to do in an emergency?

A: You must notify our Office in writing of the need for an emergency repair. Your Property Manager will contact the property owner and arrange for a repairer to attend to the emergency as soon as possible.

In an emergency, if our office or Property Manager are unavailable, or you have given written notice but the repairs have not been made within a reasonable time, the nominated repairer on your lease agreement can be contacted directly for assistance (repairs up to the value of 2 weeks rent may be spent and funds can be reimbursed to you within 7 days of handing our office all of the receipts). Please always try to contact our office first for any repairs.

 

Q: When and how often does the Agent inspect the property I have rented?

A: Routine inspections are carried out on a 3 monthly interval. The first routine inspection can be done any time after commencement of the tenancy, thereafter inspections are on a 3 monthly basis.

 

Q: What kind of notice does the Agent need to give to carry out a routine inspection?

A: Your Property Manager will give you 7 days notice in writing prior to any routine inspection taking place.

 

Q: My Property Manager has sent me a Notice to Remedy Breach, what do I need to do next?

A: If you have breached the Tenancy Agreement the Agent can issue a Notice to Remedy Breach. This gives you 7 days to fix the problem. If you have not fixed the problem within the allowed time, the Agent may issue a Notice to Leave, allowing 7 days for failing to pay rent and 14 days to leave the property for a general breach. It is best to communicate with your Property Manager within the allowed time to discuss how to resolve the matter.

 

Q: My lease agreement comes to an end – what do I need to do if I wish to stay for another period?

A: Your Property Manager will write to you and ask you to renew your lease agreement and send you a new lease to sign. All parties occupying the property need to be mentioned on the lease and all lessees need to sign the document.

 

Q: My rent has been increased – do I have to agree?

A: If your Agent offers you a lease renewal with a rent increase, it is up to you whether you wish to stay at the premises at the increased amount. You may accept the lease renewal with the increase and sign the lease agreement. If you do not accept the rent increase you may discuss the matter with your Property Manager or otherwise decide to end the tenancy at the end of the term allowing 2 weeks notice in writing.

 

Q:  I need to vacate early and will break the lease – what do I need to do?

A: You should contact your Property Manager to advise her of your intentions. She will ask you for your Notice of Intention to Leave in writing with a reason for leaving and to complete a Break Lease Form. You are responsible to pay a break lease fee of one weeks rent plus GST and Advertising as well as rent and cleaning/gardening expenses to the date the property is successfully re-let or the expiry of your lease date, whichever occurs first.

Be assured that your Property Manager will do her best to assist you with the re-letting of your rental property. You are also welcome to introduce prospective tenants to the property, who then may become tenants should their application be approved. It is generally good to stay in touch with your Property Manager to discuss what’s happening and to keep the property well presented for re-letting purposes.

 

Q: When my lease agreement expires – can I just move out?

A: You cannot move out at the end of a fixed term agreement without giving written notice to your Agent. If you wish to leave you must give 14 days notice in writing. You must continue to pay rent until you move out. You must leave the property in the same condition it was in before you moved in, fair wear and tear expected. You may have to pay for carpet cleaning or pest control depending on the conditions of your lease agreement.

 

Q: Once I have moved out, how do I get my Bond back?

A: Once you have returned to the Agent all keys, remotes and receipts for cleaning and pest control together with the Exit Condition Report, your Property Manager will schedule an EXIT Inspection.

You get your Bond back at the end of the tenancy as long as no money is owed to the Agent for rent, damages or other costs. Please talk to your Property Manager regarding the inspection and Bond Refund.

Landlords FAQs

Q: Who is responsible for Smoke Alarms

A: By law, owners of all houses and units in Queensland must install at least one smoke alarm.

Homes built or significantly renovated since 1997 must have hard-wired (240 volt) smoke alarms, while homes built prior to 1997 must have at least one 9 volt battery powered alarm.

The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service recommend the use of photoelectric smoke alarms as they are particularly responsive to smoldering fires. They are also less prone to nuisance cooking alarms.

 

Fast facts

  • The tenant must: Test and clean (by vacuuming or dusting) each alarm every 12 months
  • Replace any flat or nearly flat batteries
  • Advise the lessor/agent/manager if there is any issue with the alarm (apart from batteries)
  • The tenant must not remove a smoke alarm, remove the battery (other than to replace it) or do anything to reduce the effectiveness of the alarm (e.g. paint it)
  • The lessor/agent/manager must:
  • Install smoke alarms
  • Test and replace any flat or nearly flat batteries and clean the alarm within 30 days before the start or renewal of the tenancy
  • Replace the alarm before it reaches end of life
  • The lessor must not remove a smoke alarm, remove the battery (other than to replace it) or do anything to reduce the effectiveness of the alarm (e.g. paint it)

Please talk to your Property Manager to arrange the service when needed to comply at a low annual fee which also now includes the testing of safety switches.

 

Q: MAINTENANCE – VITAL TO PROTECT INVESTMENT AND TENANTS?

A: One of the most vital factors for property investors to consider is the importance of maintenance schedules or systems for their rental property.

The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act (RTRAA) requires that at the start of a tenancy, a residential property should be clean, fit for a tenant to live in, that the premises and inclusions are in a good repair, and the landlord is not in breach of any health or safety law.

Property managers have a clear legal responsibility to tenants to be diligent about property condition so landlords must be prepared to commit to an ongoing maintenance schedule and any ongoing costs associated with this.

As with your own home, a certain amount of wear and tear is unavoidable. During a tenancy, property managers may recommend a repairs and maintenance program to a landlord to ensure the property remains in its best condition.

Examples of planned maintenance can include budgeting to paint internally every five to seven years; cleaning gutters regularly; ensuring adequate tiling in the kitchen, laundry and bathroom areas; replacing floor coverings every seven to eight years; continually assessing the security features of the property; and annual termite inspections.

Landlords should also consider conducting repairs that will effectively reduce or prevent continual “breakdown repairs” which are both unexpected and unbudgeted.

To ensure the safety of tenants, and to reduce the likelihood of small maintenance problems becoming big serious ones, it is critical that your Property Manager has a reliable maintenance system in place.

The system should begin with the initial notification from the tenant, which is followed through to payment for completion of the work by a licensed professional who has adequate professional indemnity and public liability cover.

When it comes to emergency or routine repairs, it is best practice for property manager to seek written instructions from the landlord – unless they have been instructed to proceed with repairs up to a certain expenditure limit.

It is also a legal requirement that your Property Manager keeps you informed of any developments or issues in relation to your property.

Under the RTRAA, emergency repairs include situations such as a burst water service or a serious water service leak; a gas leak; a dangerous electrical fault; flooding or serious flood damage; or serious storm, fire or impact damage.

Your Property Manager is legally required to take immediate action to effect emergency repairs and must act on routine repairs within seven days of being notified by the tenant.

 

Q: MOULD – What is mould and who is responsible?

A: Conditions for Mould Growth in Houses

Besides oxygen and organic materials containing carbon to provide nutrients, the other main requirement mould needs to grow is moisture. You can find mould growing almost anywhere provided there is enough of a moisture source for it.

Mould problems cannot develop in houses unless there is a moisture problem. The moisture accumulation might be caused through humidity, condensation, or water intrusion from leaks, spills, floods, etc. Most moulds only require suitable materials to be wet for 24-48 hours before they can grow.

Moulds that can survive using only humidity as their moisture source are called Xerophilic, whereas other moulds require an accumulation of moisture to grow. Indoors the best way to prevent mould growing is to limit moisture.

Besides moisture, mould also needs the temperature to be right before it can begin to grow. Mould grows best in temperatures that we would consider warm, however there are some mould species that can even grow in temperatures as low as 2 degrees Celsius. If a mould colony’s environmental conditions become unfavourable,

instead of dying it can lay dormant until conditions become right again when it can continue to grow.The Act does not make specific reference to mould, but it does detail requirements about the standard maintenance of a property throughout the agreement.

 

Fast facts

  • It is the responsibility of the tenant to notify the agent or lessor of any serious/extensive mould problem.
  • If the mould is a result of an issue in the premises, such as a roof leak, it is generally the lessor’s responsibility to clean the mould and make any repairs necessary to maintain the property in good repair.
  • At the first sign of any problem, your Property Manager will discuss the issue with the tenant and report to you and recommend how to fix the problem.

 

Q: LIGHT BULBS – who is responsible for supplying or replacing light bulbs?

A: Fast facts

It is not specified in the Act who is responsible for supplying or replacing light bulbs.

Common industry practice is that the lessor/agent/manager is responsible for maintaining specialized bulbs, and the tenant/resident is responsible for the replacement of everyday bulbs.

The tenant and lessor/agent/manager should discuss this at the start of the tenancy and agree who is responsible for maintenance or replacement of light bulbs. This should be detailed in the tenancy agreement.

If changing a bulb requires specialist knowledge or specialist equipment, changing the bulb may be part of the lessor/agent’s responsibility to maintain the premises.

The provision of light bulbs should be specified in the Entry Condition Report.

 

Q:  My neighbour owns the tree. What can I do about overhanging tree branches?

A: The common law right of abatement remains – you may continue to remove any overhanging parts of the neighbour’s tree, but you no longer need to return those parts.

You now have an option to provide your neighbour with a Notice for overhanging branches requesting their removal. If your neighbour has not responded to the Notice for overhanging branches within 30 days, you may remove the branches yourself or arrange for someone else to cut and remove them. You can then recover up to $300 from your neighbour to contribute to these costs.

If you trim overhanging branches of your neighbour’s tree yourself or ask your Agent to arrange for a contractor to get the work done, you do not have to return branches, roots or fruit which you have trimmed from the neighbour’s tree but you can do so.

If necessary, you can apply to QCAT to recover up to $300 from the tree-keeper as a minor debt. Before making an application, visit http://www.neighbourhooddisputes.qld.gov.au (http://www.neighbourhooddisputes.qld.gov.au/ ) for more information on resolving the dispute without legal action.

Trees and QCAT orders

Q: What sort of orders can QCAT make in tree disputes?

A: The safety of all parties is the main consideration for QCAT. Depending on the dispute, orders may include maintenance of a tree, compensation for affects of the tree, replacement of the tree or removal of the tree (as a last resort).

Q: My neighbour is not complying with the QCAT order. What can I do?

A: Monetary decisions can be enforced through a Magistrates Court.  Non-monetary decisions can be enforced through the Supreme Court.  You may also seek assistance from your local government authority once QCAT has made a decision.