Top tips for evicting tenants

As a DIY landlord you’re bound to come across evicting tenants that drive you crazy no matter what you offer in terms of inclusions or rental discounts. Unfortunately it’s a fact of life if you decide to manage you’re own investment property– but what are your rights when you need to evict tenants? Australia has relatively strong laws that favour tenants in most cases, so you have to be prepared when it comes down to serving an eviction notice. Read on to find out more about how to you can remove a problem tenant and the steps you should take in order to make the process 100% legal and fair.

Know Your Rights And The Rights Of The Tenants And Have A Tenancy Agreement In Writing

Choosing to be a DIY landlord is a massive responsibility. It’s your duty to keep up to date with the complex and often fluid framework that’s associated with residential and commercial tenants.

That being said, ignorance of these laws isn’t an excuse for poor management practices. Knowing your and their rights is necessary if you intend on evicting tenants from your investment property. That last thing you want is to lose time and money trying to resolve a problem with your tenants, only to find they’re flouting the law and taking advantage of your willingness to help.

Want a solution? Keep up to date with all aspects of lessee/lessor legislation and make sure your renters have signed a tenancy agreement. That way if they fail to pay rent in advance, cause significant damage to the property etc., you’re adequately covered and have legal grounds for evicting tenants.

Make Sure That You Document EVERYTHING

You may be putting yourself in the line of fire if you don’t document absolutely everything going on with your rental property. This includes discussions with tenants, the condition of the property and requests for repairs made by the tenant in writing. By recording all correspondence between you and your renters you can support yourself if a matter ends up going before tribunal.

Have A Comprehensive Understanding Of The Grounds For Eviction In Your State

Your rights and the rights of your tenants differ within each state. If you’re serious about evicting tenants, then you have to know the laws specific to where the investment property is located. Tenancy databases, bonds, rent increases, security, repairs and time frames for urgent and non-urgent maintenance, plus the frequency of routine inspections and the serving of notices (tribunal or eviction notices) are often unique to each state. We’ve covered the basics regarding evicting tenants, however we recommend always trying to come to amicable solution before considering eviction. If in doubt, talk to a licensed tenancy lawyer and remember that as a rule of thumb, all termination notices must:

  • Be for a valid reason
  • Be in writing
  • Be signed and dated by you as the property manager, or by your client
  • Be properly addressed to the tenant
  • Give the day on which the residential tenancy agreement is terminated and by which the tenant is required to vacate

New South Wales

In NSW it’s compulsory to give at least 14 days notice if you wish to evict a tenant due to misconduct on the tenants’ part. This includes if the tenants are 14 days or more behind with their rent, or if they have otherwise breached your pre-defined tenancy agreement. In some situations you may not need to provide a notice for eviction. These include:

  • If there’s serious damage to the premises or any neighbouring property
  • If there’s been an injury to the landlord, agent, employee or one of the tenant’s neighbours
  • If the premises is being used by the tenant for illegal purposes such as drug manufacture
  • If there’s been cases of threat, abuse, intimidation or harassment by the tenant

Queensland

If you wish to end a tenancy agreement before the specific tenancy period has expired in Queensland, you must complete a Form 12: Notice to leave form and give a physical copy to the tenants. For general tenancies the following timeframes apply:

  • Unresolved breach in tenancy agreement (rent arrears) – 7 days minimum notice required
  • Unresolved breach of agreement for reasons other than a failure to pay rent – 14 days minimum notice
  • Non-compliance with tribunal order – 7 days minimum notice
  • Employment termination (of the tenant) – 4 weeks minimum notice

Western Australia

For Western Australia you need to follow procedure and fill out a form relevant to your cause for evicting tenants, whether it be payment based or for other reasons. If your tenants fall behind on their rent by 1 day you must give them a Form 21: Breach notice for non-payment of rent, or write to the tenant. They then have 14 days to bring their rent up to date. If its still not paid within the 14 days you’re then able to issue a Form1A: Notice of termination for non-payment of rent. This will end the agreement and the tenants will have to vacate within the next 7 days. Other grounds for ending an agreement include:

  • Not keeping the property reasonably clean
  • Causing damage to the property
  • Changing the locks without your approval
  • Causing a nuisance to neighbours
  • Failing to water or maintain the garden and lawns as agreed
  • Using the premises for business purposes without your approval

South Australia

If you’re a DIY landlord in South Australia your first course of action for evicting tenants is to give legal notice that outlines the problem and the date you’d like the tenant to vacate the property if the issue isn’t resolved. Tenants can be seen as breaking their agreement if they:

  • Fall more than 14 days behind in the rent (full or part rent)
  • Cause or allow damage to the property
  • Cause or allow the comfort, peace and privacy of other people to be disturbed
  • Don’t keep the property reasonably clean
  • Allow the property to be used illegally
  • Don’t comply to other lawful conditions included on the lease

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory notices to vacate must be specific to the reason. A notice of termination by the landlord or managing agent must:

  • Be signed by the landlord
  • Include the address of the premises
  • Contain the date on which the tenant is to vacate
  • The grounds of termination (if any)

For a periodic tenancy, a landlord may terminate the tenancy without a specified reason with 42 days notice to the tenant.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT has distinctive processes and notice periods dependent on whether the tenants haven’t paid rent or are being evicted for other reasons. In the ACT, terminating an tenancy can only be carried out in accordance with the Standard Tenancy Terms (STT) as well as the Residential Tenancy Act 1997. In addition to this, only the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal can order an eviction and only the police can carry it out.

Tasmania

A DIY landlord or property manager can evict a tenant in Tasmania for the following reasons:

  • Breach of the lease agreement – 14 days notice
  • Tenant has caused a substantial nuisance – 14 days notice
  • Rent has not been paid – 14 days notice
  • A fixed term rental period is to expire within 60 days – 42 days notice
  • In a non-fixed (periodic) lease, if the landlord wishes to sell, renovate, repurpose, or wishes to take ownership – 42 days notice
  • If the premises have been repossessed by a lending institution that must sell the property to recover money – 60 days notice

Victoria

As a landlord in Victoria you are able to have a tenancy agreement terminated for a range of reasons. Depending on the seriousness of the offence, there is also different notice periods applicable. Immediate notices before the end of lease date include:

  • If tenant or visitor inflicts malicious damage to the premises or common areas
  • If the tenant or visitor endangers neighbours

While 14 days notice can be carried out:

  • If the tenant owes at least 14 days rent
  • Has breached a VCAT (Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal) order
  • The premises is being used for illegal purposes (like drug manufacture)

If In Doubt, Seek Advice Or Research The Tenancy Act In Your State

Of course all these stipulations, laws and regulations are subject to change. By keeping up to date with all legislatures as it applies to you and your tenant, you can ensure that your dream of the perfect property investment doesn’t turn into a real life rental nightmare. There’s a wealth of information available online these days that will also help you understand what it takes to cancel an agreement with a problem tenant. This includes the Residential Tenancy Act, which can be accessed via state government websites.


Resources:

  1. Natasha Birch, 14th February 2017, “5 Things To Know About Being A DIY Landlord”, http://wapropertynews.ventura-id.com.au/5-things-to-know-about-being-a-diy-landlord/-7170
  2. Movoto.com, September 2015, “Tenants From Hell: Five Tips For Managing Terrible Tenants”, http://www.movoto.com/blog/apartments/tenants-from-hell-five-tips-for-managing-terrible-tenants/
  3. Grant Taylor, June 16th 2016, “The Ultimate Guide To Evicting Tenants Legally”, http://www.propertyme.com.au/blogme/2016/06/16/the-ultimate-guide-to-evicting-tenants-legally/

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