SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

Woman crushed while sleeping as ceiling of rental property collapses

A real estate may be held liable after the tenant complained of cracks and sagging in the ceiling for 'three or four years'.

A woman says she’s now too afraid to sleep after the ceiling collapsed on her in the middle of the night in a rental property on the Gold Coast in a shocking case that has raised questions around the neglect and responsibility of landlords.

Melissa Ware from New Zealand was staying with her sister in Hollywell and was “fast asleep” when she suddenly had a rude – and painful – awakening.

A photo shared with The Courier Mail, shows the jaw-dropping scene in the moments after the ceiling collapsed.

“All of a sudden there was a loud bang and I felt an enormous weight on top of me,” she told the publication. “It was pitch black so I had no idea what was happening and panicked.”

In the terrifying image, the 49-year-old's head can be seen poking out while she was trapped underneath the debris, “pleading for help”.

Melissa Ware trapped underneath the ceiling debris.
Melissa Ware says there was a 'loud bang' and then she felt an 'enormous weight' on top of her. Source: The Courier Mail

‘I revisit that night every time I close my eyes’

Since the incident in October, which left Ms Ware with head, neck and back injuries requiring pain medication and physiotherapy, the New Zealander says she’s suffered mentally.

“I’ve had terrible anxiety, nightmares, hypervigilance and sleeplessness,” she explained. “I’m constantly waiting for something else bad to happen.. I revisit that night every time I close my eyes.”

Tragically it’s not the first time a ceiling had collapsed in the property with an elderly relative narrowly missing being hit when the roof collapsed in another bedroom. Ms Ware’s sister said she had raised issues with the property manager around cracking and sagging in the ceilings at every inspection over the last “three or four years”, the Courier Mail reported.

“I kept contacting Ray White and asking them what was happening with it but they kept saying they were waiting for a response from the landlord,” she told the publication.

Real estate agent ‘deeply sorry’

While the family has since moved out of the property, Ray White Runaway Bay confirmed that a liability claim had been made against the landlord with the tenant seeking compensation.

“We discovered the issues with the ceiling during a routine inspection by the property manager,” Principle Ali Mian told Yahoo News Australia on Monday.

“We advised the landlord of the maintenance issue and had been waiting for instructions from the owner to engage a tradesperson.”

He added that he was deeply sorry to hear that his tenant’s guest had been hurt at the property, in the incident that happened in October.

“The owner is now undertaking a full repair and renovation of their property’s space room.”

The caved in ceiling in the Hollywell property.
Ms Ware's sister said she had reported the cracked and sagging ceiling to the real estate agent for the last 'three or four years' but nothing was done. Source: The Courier Mail

Ray White could be held accountable too

While the primary responsibility for property maintenance lies with the landlord, a personal injury lawyer says the real estate agent may be held accountable too.

“If the ceiling is sagging and looking like it might fall, then the real estate agent definitely has responsibilities to convey to the landlord at a minimum that there's immediate repairs required,” Helen Ashton, Director of East Coast Injury Lawyers, told Yahoo News Australia.

“Whether they can actually do anything further than that depends upon the agreement between them and the landlord... contracts usually will include a clause where if there is an emergency situation, something that poses an immediate threat to someone's safety, real estate agents often have some ability to action for repairs,” she explained.

“The tenant is reasonable to expect that they're living somewhere safe. Where they're not going to have something fall on top of them while they’re sleeping. That’s unacceptable.”

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.