Renter loses 'junk mail is trespass' case

·2-min read

A renter ticked off over junk mail took a Sydney real estate agency to court for trespassing in his letterbox.

In a claim filed in the NSW District Court, Dundas resident Mark Eldridge sought an order that Harcourts West Ryde ceased placing "unsolicited material in letterboxes".

He claimed the agency had ignored the "no junk mail" sticker he'd affixed to his letterbox in 2018.

Come 2020, he began requesting the agency stop delivering material to all letterboxes marked no junk mail.

When that didn't work, he sent a cease and desist letter and stated any further incursions onto his letterbox would be considered trespass.

In a reply letter sent to Mr Eldridge's post office box, the agency said its newsletters, discussing various real estate issues, weren't junk mail.

It offered to direct no further deliveries to the renter's address but privacy-conscious Mr Eldridge declined to provide his residential address.

Mr Eldridge said he wouldn't provide his address to a person with whom he had no relationship.

Agency director Wayne Beard told the District Court he had no desire to send materials to people who objected to receiving them, given the reputational damage that would flow.

Justice John Hatzistergos accepted the newsletters may be a source of annoyance to Mr Eldridge.

But his notices about trespass were insufficient to withdraw any implied licence the agency had to deliver him material.

Trespass also couldn't be claimed given the landlord maintained possession of the letterbox.

The judge also wasn't satisfied a reasonable person would view the newsletters as junk mail when faced with Mr Eldridge's letterbox sticker.

The term "no junk mail" lacked a defined or clear meaning.

"For example, it is not clear as to whether it extends to all unsolicited/unaddressed mail including community distributions such as a lost animal notices, local newsletters or notices as to local development," Judge Hatzistergos said.

"Perhaps that is the reason other agencies recommend other signage."

Australia Post mentions in its terms and conditions it obeys "no unaddressed advertising material" signs except in the case of community notices permitted by law.

Distributors of large-scale advertising material are trained to obey "No Advertising Material" signs, according to the Distribution Standards Board.

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