We recently covered the oversight power of the
Tenancy Compliance and Investigation Team (“TCIT”).
In the course of posting that information, we thought it helpful to drill down into the level of disclosure a landlord/property manager is to expect if
he/she is to become a subject of the TCIT’s investigation. No mental arithmetic or theoretical acrobatics necessary. It is easier to just ask.
We wrote to the TCIT team with the following question:
“We understand that the TCIT is triggered either by a specific complaint made by a tenant or general random audit of business process/compliance. In requesting
information from the landlord, would the TCIT disclose whether there is a specific complaint laid down against the landlord or whether the landlord
is simply subject of a general random audit?”
Investigator Matthew Toft graciously came back with a detailed response:
To best answer the question, it would be beneficial to understand how complaints are handled initially.
- Early resolution / guided self-resolution – Where the complainant is provided with advice, given information or provided instruction on applying for mediation or to the Tenancy Tribunal depending on the nature of the complaint.
- Reactive compliance action – Compliance action may be taken where the triage process may have indicated the presence of some systemic issues but does not meet the threshold for an Investigation to take place. In this instance, a generic letter of engagement would be sent requesting that an assessment of the business practices be undertaken by a compliance officer and the letter does not specifically reference a complaint.
- Proactive compliance action – These are not based on complaints but may be based on anecdotal information, media information or selected on a more random basis. In these circumstances again a generic letter of engagement would be sent requesting the landlord make themselves available for an assessment of their business practices.
- As a result of a prior investigation or previous compliance action that detected issues – In these circumstances where an investigation has concluded or previous compliance action has concluded and that resulted in a compliance agreement and/or warning letter the investigator or compliance officer may identify these landlords for a re-assessment to confirm business practices have been adapted to comply with the Act. In these instances, a generic letter of engagement would be sent requesting the landlord make themselves available for an assessment of their business practices.
- If a complaint is triaged and is referred to investigation or if previous compliance action gets escalated to an investigation a standard template letter for making an information request is sent and advises the landlord that TCIT is investigating alleged breaches of the RTA without specifying what the breaches being investigated are or providing any identifying details of the complainant. The letter then advises what the landlord can do to assist with the investigation which will normally be the provision of documents under section 123A (2) and/or 133 (1) of the RTA.
I hope this information helps.
Considering all landlords and property managers can potentially become a subject to a TCIT investigation, it would be helpful to cast your eyes over
the above information to better prepare yourself.