Joe Courte in the Isaac St house he owns left in poor state after tenant evicted. Thursday, 2nd May, 2019.
Joe Courte in the Isaac St house he owns left in poor state after tenant evicted. Thursday, 2nd May, 2019. Nev Madsen

Property trashed by tenants: Covered in faeces, urine

THE photos are awful - but what they can't convey is the smell of this North Toowoomba home - where every floor in every room was caked in dog faeces and urine.

It is a house which up until Thursday was home to a mother, and her two children, aged five months and three years, landlord Joe Courte said.

And while it's not the worst damage he's seen in his years as a landlord, his experience with this property has Mr Courte calling for the establishment of a stand-alone Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal in Toowoomba.

After the tenant stopped paying rent in December, Mr Courte said he and his wife spent months trying to get help for the woman, before finally filing an urgent application to evict her with QCAT on March 26.

The matter took a month to be heard.

Isaac St house owned by Joe Courte left in poor state after tenant evicted. Thursday, 2nd May, 2019.
The bathroom of Joe Courte's North Toowoomba home on the day the tenant was evicted. Nev Madsen

"In Toowoomba, with the workload on the Magistrate's Court, QCAT keeps getting prioritised down the list," Mr Courte said.

"I thought there'd be a week or two delay. It turned out being 31 days I think, all up."

Mr Courte said he wrote to local MPs and to State Attorney General Yvette D'ath about the issue.

"If (Toowoomba had a stand-alone QCAT), I could have got a hearing in two days, this would be rented again now and it would be cleaned up, spiffed up, ready to go. Now they've done another month of damage, I've lost another $1200 rent, and it'll probably cost me another 20 grand," he said.

"If it's a serious matter, why do we have to wait a month for an urgent hearing? It sort of makes the world urgent look a bit ridiculous."

 

Isaac St house owned by Joe Courte left in poor state after tenant evicted. Thursday, 2nd May, 2019.
SQUALOR: Inside the kitchen of the North Toowoomba home owned by Joe Courte. Mr Courte said the fridge, despite being turned on, was full of rotting food riddled with maggots and cockroaches. Nev Madsen

He also said he was worried for the safety of the children who had to live in the property.

"I complained to the police and children's services five weeks ago. I wouldn't be told if anything happened, but until yesterday their five-month-old baby was still living in this house and when you see what it was living amongst you will pass out," he said.

"As far as I know they haven't shown up. The lady left here with the children still with her."

State Government Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath thanked Mr Courte for writing to her.

"The Palaszczuk Government is committed to ensuring QCAT provides easily accessible justice, appointing former District Court judge John Robertson to further increase QCAT's efficiency in the future," she said.

Renter trashes house: Joe Courte shares his frustrations over funding for QCAT.

"Legislation has also been passed to increase QCAT's operational efficiency and $530,000 has been reallocated to QCAT to assist in addressing workloads by providing additional funding for Sessional Members and support staff for the Tribunal."

Speaking generally, Shadow Attorney-General and Toowoomba South MP David Janetzki said Toowoomba had always struggled to get the justice resourcing it needs.

"It doesn't surprise me to learn that urgent QCAT matters in Toowoomba are not being heard quickly."

The 2017/18 QCAT annual report said the current wait times to hearings for minor civil disputes - which includes rental disputes - "do not align with QCAT's objectives".

"It is expected that without increased investment in additional tribunal and registry resources, further delays in this jurisdiction will be inevitable."