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No mat on wet stairs - dinner guest wins $782 000

No mat on wet steps, dinner guest wins $782k for fall

A dinner guest who fractured her right ankle in a fall on a damp landing after kissing her hosts goodnight has convinced an appeal court they should pay injury compensation for their failure to place matting at the top of stairs to protect against a rainfall hazard.

Sheran Schultz slipped on the edge of the top step leading down from a dry tiled landing, that had become wet from “blown in” rain.

She alleged Norman McCormack and wife Cathryn – long standing friends whom she had visited many times in all weather conditions – ought to have to have warned her that the tiled landing could become “unusually slippery” if it was wet.

The McCormack’s had owned the home since 1980 and had tiled the entrance landing. After the accident, they painted a nonslip coating across the landing and the steps “as an inexpensive precaution against similar accidents”.

The most important business lesson I have learnt from an airline

As a frequent flyer for many years due to business, I have long chosen and stayed in the main with Qantas as my preferred airline.

I recently moved to Cairns in beautiful far north Queensland whilst also maintaining a home office in Brisbane. 

For the first few months of commuting from my new home, I stayed with what I knew; Qantas. Due to flight times I started looking elsewhere and then flew Jetstar and Virgin a number of times.

The day of writing this blog I have now flown tiger for the first time and wow, what an eye opener. A positive eye opener and a great experience.

The service levels at Qantas in my view and experience have dropped dramatically in recent years. Whenever I phoned, which as a credit to them they do answer quickly, the attitude and lack of service quite frankly has been appalling on many occasions! I have often felt like apologising for phoning them. As a frequent flyer I sometimes have to change flights and didn't need their superior non-helpful attitude which was the consistent experience. The flight attendants also in recent years made me feel like I should thank them for being there as opposed to them being grateful for a paying client. I take no pleasure in writing this but this was by far a common experience for quite some time.


Property Management is the same as Sales

Happy staff = Happy clients

A property management role is the same as being in the sales department. Every contact with an existing landlord is a reminder to the client why your agency should have their valued business.

Every interaction a staff member in the property management department (regardless of their position) has with the public is important. Everyone in the agency plays a selling role. What could seem like a ‘small role’ cannot be overstated.

Every contact matters with a landlord client whether it is about a maintenance matter, a statement matter and or a lease renewal matter; your agency is always selling your services and through the interaction reminds the client why your agency should continue to have their business.

It is useful to remember (when and if required) that the business is lucky to have the client; not the client is lucky to have your agency. Clients (and tenants) are not an interruption to our business, they are the reason we have a business.

Every time there is interaction with an existing landlord client (and tenant) it is a reminder to the client why your agency is superior and why they should have their business with your agency.

Retaining clients is not that difficult; communication and service is all that most require. Having a superior customer service culture is in the main, the most important asset to have. There are so many benefits to having a culture of service and communication including retention of business, but also, staff retention. Happy staff = happy clients.

Word of mouth is still the best form of marketing in order to grow businesses.


Is your investment property being used as a drug lab?

View a free training video from Real Estate Excellence for property managers on drug lab awareness here

October 15, 20151:30pm

A police photo of a suspected ice drug lab.

Michelle Hele Network Online Real Estate EditorNews Corp Australia Network

ILLICIT drug labs have become so common place that cleaning companies now specialise in decontaminating them.

Aside from the risk of fire or explosion before they are detected, the cost of the clean up can run into tens of thousands of dollars.

According to Terri Scheer insurance clean ups of drug labs come under claims for malicious damage.

Malicious damage claims account for nearly 11 per cent of the total insurance claims paid out by the group in the 2014/15 financial year. It is the second most common landlord insurance claim, behind loss of rental income.

Real estate agent’s home inspection uncovers crop house 

She said aside from the cost of repairing damage, landlords could be without rent for some time as well.

Police clean up a suspected drug lab. Picture: Marlon Dalton

Police clean up a suspected drug lab. Picture: Marlon DaltonSource:Supplied


Why landlords and tenants need to ensure they have the right insurance in place

Slippery steps a source of strife



IMPORTANT - Real Estate Excellence Members 

An "As it happens member update" will be emailed to members 15th September 2015 (plus loaded to Member Online - Member Updates folder) for further important information regarding this article.



Slippery steps a source of strife - 15 September 2015

  • Slip
  • Contributory negligence
  • Duty of care
  • Foreseeable risk

In the following Alert, Senior Associate Jacqi Marshall and Solicitor Melissa McGarrity discuss the NSW Court of Appeal decision of Stenning v Sanig [2015] NSWCA 214, upholding the trial judge’s decision with respect to breach of duty of care, but reducing the damages awarded to the Respondent for contributory negligence.  

The facts

The Appellant, a man in his nineties, was regularly visited by the Respondent who assisted the Appellant with his ailing health.

The Appellant had previously installed a set of three steps made from “Caesarstone” on a path leading from his home to the street, which also included a handrail.  The Appellant had slipped on the steps several months after installing them and took some remedial action by placing squares of carpet in the middle of the steps, leaving a small gap at either side of the steps.

On the day of the accident, the Respondent was leaving the Appellant’s property after it had been raining heavily.  The Respondent was aware that the steps became slippery and deliberately intended to avoid using the steps, instead opting to step from the path on to the grass adjacent.  The Respondent did not utilise the handrail.

As the Respondent stepped out onto the grass, she inadvertently placed her foot on the wet Ceasarstone step, slipped and suffered personal injury.  

Proceedings at first instance

At first instance, the Respondent was successful in establishing that the Ceasarstone used for the steps was unsuitable as it was too slippery, particularly when wet.  The Court found that the remedial measures taken by the Appellant were not sufficient and he was found to have breached his duty of care.  There was no reduction for contributory negligence.  

The appeal

The Appellant challenged the findings of the court on three counts:

  • The finding that the risk was foreseeable, not insignificant, and the remedial action taken was not sufficient;
  • The Respondent was contributory negligent; and
  • The award for future care was excessive.

The Appellant failed on the first count, and the Court of Appeal held that the Appellant was negligent, particularly given that the cost of the remedial actions was low and the risk of harm was high.  Further, if it were not for the extremely slippery nature of Caesarstone when wet, the Respondent would not have fallen.

The Appellant was successful in his challenge that the Respondent was contributory negligent.  The Court of Appeal found that the Respondent failed to adequately look where she was going when she stepped off the path, and to ensure that she did not tread on the wet surface of the Caesarstone which she knew to be slippery and dangerous.  Damages were reduced by 15% on account of the Respondent’s own negligence.  

The Appellant was also successful in his challenge in relation to the award for future care which was reduced by approximately $100,000.

Take away points

  • There is a significant risk of a finding of negligence when inadequate makeshift measures are used to address a foreseeable risk of injury.
  • This case is a timely reminder for all home owners to take the time to review their home and contents insurance arrangements to ensure that they have sufficient public liability insurance in place.

Home owners in Queensland who have people attend their property to carry out work such as tradespeople, gardeners, cleaners, carers or baby sitters should consider obtaining a Household Workers’ Insurance Policy from WorkCover Queensland at a cost of $50 for two years.  An application for the policy can be found at:

For more information or discussion, please contact HopgoodGanim Lawyers' Insurance & Risk team.