Melbourne: Pregnant woman sues after ‘falling through her floorboards, getting trapped in a hole and later learning she has miscarried’

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 was later told in hospital she had suffered a miscarriage.

Samantha*, a 35-year-old Melbourne woman, claims she made a misstep and fell through a hole in the floorboards that she claimed a repairman had partially patched with cardboard.

Fire Rescue Victoria said they spent 35 minutes cutting the woman from the floor in 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 alleged.

As a result of the fall, the woman says she suffered a sprained ankle, back injury and a concussion. She also later found out that she had been pregnant and had suffered a miscarriage.

“Before that, in 2020, I had a huge tumor removed from my uterus, so they said it was virtually impossible to get pregnant,” she said.

‘When we found out I had had a miscarriage, I think that hit me the hardest.’

The hole in the wooden floor of the Melbourne rental property after woman claims she fell through it. She said she and her partner asked the broker to resolve the issue

The woman, who is preparing to take her case to the County Court of Victoria, said she has ongoing psychological problems and her partner had made repeated requests for repairs prior to her fall.

According to her lawyers, Slater and Gordon, the requests were “seemingly ignored” until a repairman covered the hole with cardboard and tape.

The company’s public liability specialist, Jackson Pannam, said the alleged breach of a duty of care was “quite egregious”.

‘She is still receiving active treatment. We do not have clarity at this time regarding the extent of her psychiatric injuries.”

The couple later stopped paying rent and were evicted.

Property agent Love&Co has said some claims made by tenants are ‘simply false’.

They said there was no hole in the floorboards when an inspection was carried out before the couple moved into the house.

Before the fall, the woman and her partner claim a repairman working for the property 'fixed' the hole using cardboard and tape (pictured)

Before the fall, the woman and her partner claim a repairman working for the property ‘fixed’ the hole using cardboard and tape (pictured)

The woman’s partner first moved into the home in April 2021 and filed the first complaint via email in September of that year.

“They probably need to be replaced as they pose both a trip and fall hazard to us,” he wrote in a September 2021 email.

Further repair requests followed 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 rainwater drainage, leading to structural cracks, a sunken kitchen foundation and an uneven floor.

The woman is suing for “pain and suffering” resulting from her injuries, along with out-of-pocket medical costs and loss of income due to her inability to work as a family law attorney since the fall.

Mr Pannam said the Residential Tenancies Act, which governs relations between landlords and tenants, was amended in 2021 to impose minimum standards for rental properties.

The law requires a landlord to ensure that the property is structurally sound, safe and free of moisture and mold, among other basic standards.

According to Tenants Victoria, rental properties must be free of mold and damp and meet minimum ventilation standards.

Mr Pannam said tenants should immediately report any safety issues to the agent and ask for repairs.

He advised that the agent should be notified in writing of any safety concerns, 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