Mr Wu’s tenancy agreement: a good deed needed

Mr Wu approached the
Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association (MDAA) with a request for help to sort out a convoluted tenancy agreement.

Mr Wu has a deteriorating medical
condition meant that he needed assistance with shopping, cooking and cleaning.

Last year, he invited a female acquaintance, Ms Lim, and her daughter to move into the unoccupied second bedroom of the 2-bedroom unit that
he owns and lives in. Ms Lim and Mr Wu agreed that in lieu of rent Ms Lim
would supply and prepare food, and do daily household cleaning and
laundry. 

A solicitor had advised Mr Wu to enter into a tenancy agreement with Ms
Lim, and gave Mr Wu a standard residential tenancy agreement form for him to
complete at home.

The completed tenancy agreement had many flaws. It stated that the
tenancy agreement would commence when Mr Wu left the premises, but Mr Wu said he
had no intention of leaving the premises; and it stated that $150 in rent would
be paid weekly. Additional terms inserted at the end of the agreement waived
rent on condition that Ms Lim supply and prepare food, clean and do laundry.
These additional terms appeared to be signed by Ms Lim only and her signature
was not witnessed.

MDAA referred Mr Wu to the PIAC solicitor, Nancy
Walker
 (pictured) who provides an in-house legal service to MDAA clients as part of
PIAC’s Mental Health Legal Services Project.

Mr Wu sought advice from the PIAC solicitor on the most appropriate form
of agreement to enter into. Mr Wu wanted to prevent the possibility of a claim
being made against him on the basis of a de facto relationship, and he wanted
to prevent one or both of his tenants from making a claim on his estate.

The PIAC solicitor prepared a Deed. It included an agreement that the
only existing relationship between the parties was that of landlord and tenant
and that neither Ms  Lim nor her
daughter would make a claim against Mr Wu’s estate.

The Deed bound all three parties to the agreement
and was the most appropriate format for a tenancy agreement. The Deed was
executed and witnessed accordingly.

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