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Deborah Awyzio
Deborah Awyzio, Solicitor
Category: Australia Law
Satisfied Customers: 863
Experience:  Bachelor of Laws (QUT), BIT (QUT), Family Law Accredited Specialist, over 12 years experience
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My husband and I rented at a residential property with Harcourts

Customer Question

My husband and I rented at a residential property with Harcourts - Daisy Hill up until Oct 2011 when we lost the house to a house fire caused by a friends child (he found a lighter down in my husbands shed, took it upstairs to my sons bedroom and lit the mattress). Immediately, we rung the agency to let know what was happening, at which time it was explained that they would have to get a hold of the property owner. The next day my husband rung our property manager to make an appointment to discuss our legal responsibilities pertaining the house-fire. At the meeting we were informed by the rental property manager that the owners have taken possession of the house and that is it no longer their (Rental Agencies) responsibility and that they're gonna have to refund us our Bond and the +weeks rent we had paid well in adv. It has been nearly two (2) years since the house fire, Approx. 4 weeks ago we received a house visit from a Integrated Recovery Services, Debt Collector who at which time requested payment for the House Fire. We weren't allowed to keep a copy of the paperwork that the Debt Collector summoned us with, so instead we took snap-shot copies. Up until this morning we had not responded to any further discussion/s with Integrated as we're not sure what our rights are and what we should do from here. We have since received a copy of the bill (via email) for the amount of: $171,071.58. Your advice on this matter would be grately appreciated. Yours sincerely, XXXXX XXXXX

Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Australia Law
Expert:  Leon replied 4 years ago.
Good Morning

Thank you for your question. To Introduce myself I am a sydney based Solicitor and will do my best to provide you with relevant information to assist you.

So can I assume it was a court summons in the District or Supreme Court?

They have to give you a copy of the Paperwork otherwise you cannot defend the claim.

I assume they are suing you and holding you responsble for the house fire?

You need the paperwork and you will need to defend it if there is a defence or alternatively work out an arrangement with the person suing you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Good morning,


Thank you for replying promptly to my enquiry. The paperwork presented us by the Debt Collector has "integrated recovery services" template on the letter head, so it would probably be safe to assume that it wasn't a court summons. To this day they have made several attempts to request payment from us, we haven't received any paperwork from them outlining and/or explaining what we're meant to be paying for (we understand it was a house fire). This situation has been made some what complicated because according to the paperwork Harcourts - Daisy Hill have filed this claim against us, we're currently renting a property from them, they are who helped get us into the house we're in at the moment, we can't understand why they didn't just come to us and let us know that this is their intention. Instead we're having to deal with a debt collector who wouldn't give us paperwork to keep (so resorted to taking snap-shot copies).


Should I request a copy of the paperwork from him so that we can defend a claim that we're not sure about what we're defending. In his paperwork he states that our 2 year son was playing with a box of matches which ignited the fire within the residence.


Yet contradictory to his statement, the fire report that he has obtained states none of the above.


There is also a 'DEBT AMOUNT' stated in the paperwork for the amount of $0:00, when we bought this to the debt collectors attention, he promptly expressed that he was unable to leave this copy with us and that he'd have to take it with him, so my husband quickly took pics of everything, including circling the $0:00 amount.


My apologies if im rambling on about every thing and nothing, but if I could received some direction as to what I should do, it'll be much appreciated.

Expert:  Leon replied 4 years ago.
Good Afternoon

Yes you need a copy of the documentation so that you can get more details legal advise.

You should also get a copy of the report as to the cause of the fire.

I assume you had invited the friends to your home on the day that the fire occurred?