Monday, December 9, 2013

NSW Fair Trading tenancy dispute resolution service

NSW Fair Trading is promoting a dispute resolution service for certain types of tenancy disputes. If you're a tenant (or a landlord, or an agent) and you've not been able to sort out a problem yourself, you can apply to NSW Fair Trading to conduct mediation between you and the other party.

The mediation might result in a non-binding settlement of the dispute, or it might not settle, in which case you'll have to consider applying to the Tribunal for an outcome (currently the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal; from 1 January next year, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal). You'll have to consider applying to the Tribunal if the other party doesn't keep to the settlement they've agreed to, too.

It's good to know that this service is there as an option – one option amongst several. You can also contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service, who are experienced hands in negotiating with landlords and agents. Even when they cannot negotiate on your behalf can usually give you some handy tips on how best to do it yourself.

And the Tribunal is an option. You should consider applying to the Tribunal, particularly if you've been given the run around by your landlord or their agent for some time. Keep in mind that there are time limits on applications: you've got to apply within three months of becoming aware of a breach; and for some other types of dispute, the time limit is less than that.

And note that the Fair Trading service is optional, not mandatory (a mandatory process, duplicating the Tribunal's dispute resolution role in an inferior way, and complicating access to justice, would not be a good idea). 

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