We rented our current house through Catania Medtrano Real Estate and have had nothing but problems dealing with this dishonest organization, in particular with the "Licensee-in-Charge" Alex Catania.
The date to move in was set as the 18th November, 2006. The evening before Alex phoned me to say that the former tennant ts would not be able to have left until early morning. I'm a reasonable person so we agreed that we would arrive at 11am to move in.
Next morning we arrive at the property, with a car, trailer and van full of our things, at 11:30am to find Alex standing out the front. It seems the tennants are still in the property, and in fact one of them is still in bed. Of course all their stuff is still there! Do we get an apology from Alex? Not at all, more like a "nothing I can do" attitude.
So after deciding that nothing's going to happen that day, we move in on the Sunday. Fortunately for Catania we were staying with my parents. Had we been moving from another rental property, he'd have been lugging the former tennants' stuff out onto the footpath himself.
We arrive on Sunday morning and move in, as expected. No condition report was available when we moved in, and the place was pretty grubby. A month later we still haven't seen a condition report, so we write a letter to the estate agent and landlord. We finally get one, but only one copy of it and, of course, the condition is listed as everything being perfect. No marks on the walls, no scratches on the floor, windows are clean, the blinds aren't broken. Needless to say, we amend this quick smart.
Now it's almost three months since we've moved in and we still haven't received notice that our bond has been submitted to the Office of Fair Trading, as required by law. Alex told my partner a week ago that he would send it, and I just got off the phone to find it hasn't arrived there yet.
Next step is to apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal to order them to submit the bond. Apparently there's a $2200 fine if they don't submit it within seven days. I will be urging the Tribunal to levy the fine.
This estate agent's motto, "working with integrity" is quite the joke.
Tuesday 9th January, 2007.
Last week I booked a hearing with the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal. I suspect Catania Medrano have received the notification of hearing, as I just received a call from Cristina Medrano, the Property Manager apparently. She tells me the bond has been lodged, though she couldn't tell me when it was lodged. A quick call to the Office of Fair Trading tells me they haven't received it.
This is the third time we've been told it's been lodged. I'll believe it when I get the paperwork from the Bond Board. Otherwise I'll be at the tribunal on 30th January.
She started waffling on about them paying these things at the end of the month (which would mean it should have been done in November) and if it got missed the next month (which would have been December). Of course, the law is very clear on this. The bond must be submitted within seven days. It doesn't matter how they do their accounting internally, it must be submitted within seven days. Can't get much clearer than that, though it seemed like new information to Christina Medrano.
Monday 15th January, 2007
I cancelled the hearing last week because Catania Medrano finally paid the bond into the bond board. I would have continued with the hearing except that the person I spoke to says they only apply fines in extreme cases where they've ignored multiple warnings. What the point of having fines is I don't understand!
Fortunately we deal directly with our landlord, who is very nice, and won't have to deal with Catania ever again. That's fortunate as I hear from Jay Atkins that they're having huge problems with them.
So it seems this isn't an isolated incident. Jay tells me: "The day we moved in the owner was there still fitting electical sockets, tv antenna and telstra sockets. 3 months later we got blinds for our windows ( we weren't allowed to put any curtain rods up or drill into the walls so they said the owner would do so )"
It's enough to make you want to get on the mortgage treadmill! Though, of course, that would involve dealing with slimebag real estate scumbags like Alex Catania!
Tuesday 30th January, 2007
I received a couple of phone calls yesterday from Alex.
Me: Hello Simon speaking
Alex: Hello Simon this is Alex, your real estate agent.
Me: Hi Alex. What can I do for you?
Alex: I see you've been busy with your web site.
Me: Oh yes.
Alex: Heard about defamation? I'll give you a week to pull it down or you'll hear from my lawyers.
(I hang up)
Me: Hello Simon speaking
Alex: What are you doing about accomodation? It won't be long until your lease comes up and you'll find it very hard to get a reference.
(I hang up)
All I'll say here is that with the amended defamation law from 2005, a defence of "truth" is allowed, which replaces the "truth and public interest" defence, though I think this defence would work anyway in this case.
Friday 23rd March, 2007