Landlord '$65k out of pocket' after tenant 'refuses to move, pay rent'

Shocking images show the suburban Melbourne home in complete disarray.

A Melbourne landlord claims she’s “close to $65,000 out of pocket” after her tenant allegedly refused to leave her rental property and stopped paying rent.

Nicole Hicks said she leased her suburban home to a single mum on government welfare six years ago, but always had the intention of moving back in to renovate and sell the property. That time came in June last year, so the landlord’s real estate agent sent a notice to vacate.

Landlord Nicole Hicks and the home she rented out to her tenant.
Landlord Nicole Hicks said she leased her home to a single mum six years ago, but when she tried to move back in last year, she says the tenant refused to budge. Source: A Current Affair

“She stopped paying rent the moment we notified her of the 60 days,” a frustrated and emotional Ms Hicks told A Current Affair. With nowhere to live, the landlord said she was forced to move into a hotel. The cost of her own rent — as well as paying her mortgage while not receiving a cent from the tenant in nine months — has stripped her of almost $65,000, Ms Hicks said.

“People can’t believe there’s nothing I can do, I can’t believe there’s nothing I can do,” she said. Shocking footage of Ms Hick’s property captured by A Current Affair shows a broken glass window and crumbled fencing, as well as dirty discarded children’s toys and rubbish, including food wrappers, strewn across the front and back yard.

Nicole Hicks on her hotel balcony and rubbish in her home's backyard.
Nicole Hicks said the entire ordeal has so far cost her $65,000 - and 'it's not over yet'. Source: A Current Affair

The landlord also appears to have supplied images of the inside the home in complete disarray. “I was mortified. Holes in the walls, you could not open the laundry door because the clothes were piled from floor to ceiling,” she said. “I don’t know how much more I can take.”

Landlord's case thrown out over technicality

Ms Hicks also claims that strangers frequently visit the property. When approached by ACA, a man inside the home said the tenant has been “letting [them] stay”. “The worst part I feel is that they’re laughing at me, laughing at the fact that they’re living in my house rent free and there’s nothing I can do about it,” she said.

Clothes and turned over drawers on a bed in the home and a hole in the wall.
Shocking images show the suburban Melbourne home in complete disarray. Source: A Current Affair

The landlord waited three months for a hearing at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but it was thrown out because her agent sent the vacate notice by email, not by mail. Ms Hicks, who has lodged another application with VCAT, said the stress has led to a “nervous breakdown” and that her estate agent has since resigned, with others refusing to take on her listing.

Victoria introduced changes to its rental laws in March 2021, forbidding “rent bidding”, implementing a minimum standard and more secure leases, and making it harder for landlords to refuse pets.

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