A pregnant Australian tenant is suing her former landlord and real estate agency, claiming she suffered a series of injuries when she fell through a wooden floor at home and later learned in hospital she had suffered a miscarriage.
Samantha*, a 35-year-old woman from Melbourne, claims she took a wrong step and fell through a hole in the floorboards, which she said a repairman had partially patched with cardboard.
Fire Rescue Victoria said it spent 35 minutes cutting the woman from the floor of the Thomastown rental home in April this year.
“I was unconscious when my dogs woke me up. I had rice on the stove before I fell. “The stove was on fire,” she claimed.
As a result of the fall, the woman said she suffered a sprained ankle, a back injury and a concussion. She also later learned that she was pregnant and had suffered a miscarriage.
“Previously, in 2020, I had a huge tumor removed from my uterus, so they said it was almost impossible to get pregnant,” she said.
“When we found out I had a miscarriage, I think that hit me the hardest.”
The hole in the wooden floor of the Melbourne rental property after the woman claimed she fell through. She said she and her partner asked the real estate agency to fix the problem
The woman, who is preparing to file her lawsuit in the County Court of Victoria, said she had ongoing mental health issues and that her partner had made repeated requests for repairs before her fall.
According to their lawyers Slater and Gordon, the requests “seemed to be ignored” until a mechanic covered the hole with cardboard and tape.
The firm’s liability specialist, Jackson Pannam, said the alleged breach of a duty of care was “quite serious”.
“She is still receiving active treatment. “At this time, we are unclear about the extent of her psychiatric injuries.”
The couple later stopped paying rent and were evicted from the property.
Real estate agency Love&Co said some of the tenants’ claims were “simply false”.
An inspection before the couple moved into the house said there was no hole in the floorboards.
Before the fall, the woman and her partner claim that a mechanic working for the property “repaired” the hole with cardboard and tape (pictured).
The woman’s partner first moved into the property in April 2021 and made the first complaint via email in September of that year.
“They likely need to be replaced as they pose both a trip and fall hazard to us,” he wrote in a September 2021 email.
Additional repair requests were sent in 2022 and 2023 after the woman moved in with him.
A building inspection report commissioned by Slater and Gordon in July this year found the property had poor stormwater drainage, resulting in structural cracks, a sunken kitchen foundation and uneven floors.
The woman is suing for “pain and suffering” from her injuries, as well as medical costs and lost income because she has been unable to work as a family lawyer since the fall.
Mr Pannam said the Residential Tenancies Act, which governs relationships between landlords and tenants, was amended in 2021 to require minimum standards for rental properties.
The law requires a landlord to ensure, among other basic standards, that the property is structurally sound, safe and free from damp and mold.
According to Tenant Victoria, rental properties must be free of mold and moisture and meet minimum ventilation standards.
Mr Pannam said tenants should immediately report any safety issues to the estate agent and ask for repairs to be made.
He recommended informing the agent in writing of any safety issues and that tenants should be prepared to take their landlord to VCAT if necessary.
Love&Co has been contacted for further comment.
*Not her real name