An elderly widow, who has lived in the same Holland Park unit for over 40 years, has been told to vacate the premises within 48 hours after a notice to leave was placed under her flower pots. Three other tenants in the apartment block were given the same notice on March 25th and instructed they must vacate by midnight on Marth 29th. As of April 1st, no resolution has been found and the tenants feel like this was a “dirty trick” by the new owner, to turf them out and develop the property. However, the truth of the matter is that the building had some structural issues which have been aggravated from the recent heavy rain and flooding, resulting in the premises being deemed unsafe.
A copy of the building inspection report has since been provided by a spokeswoman from Harcourts real estate which confirmed the structural damages. The report concluded that two major brick walls had recently failed and were badly cracked and bowing inwards impacting three of the units. In the event of another rainstorm, there is a high risk that the retaining walls could move further inward and collapse, resulting in the entire building collapsing. The report also recommended that permanent remedial works be carried out immediately and that the tenants be relocated as soon as possible, until the building has been repaired.
While the situation is unfortunate and distressing for the tenants, the fact remains that the premises is unsafe to inhabit. It is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the property such that it is safe for the tenants to occupy. If it is unsafe then it is the landlord’s duty to undertake repairs to an acceptable standard, as soon as possible. Sometimes this will result in tenants being forced to vacate the premises while repairs are being completed. Therefore, it was entirely legal and necessary for the landlord to issue vacation notices to the tenants because allowing them to live in unsafe units would result in significantly harsher legal implications for the landlord if the building was inspected.