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How to evict a tenant when everything goes wrong

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Evicting a tenant is a worst-case scenario, but there may come a time when a landlord needs to take action and vacate tenants from their investment property.

Unpaid rent, illegal activity, property damage – these are some of the reasons a landlord or property manager may need to evict tenants.

Generally, tenants are evicted when a mutual agreement cannot be reached or the tenant will not vacate on their own accord, and is due to a breach of the terms of their lease agreement.

Landlord and property managers should refer to their state’s residential tenancy authority before evicting tenants as the legislation can differ from state-to-state.

Reasons for eviction

Landlords and property managers must have a legal and valid reason to evict tenants.

The following situations could constitute a breach of lease agreement and warrant evicting your tenants:

  • Failure to pay rent after receiving reminder notices.
  • Consistently late rental payments.
  • Malicious damage caused to the property.
  • Using the property for illegal purposes, such as drug dealing or manufacturing.
  • Being a nuisance to neighbours.
  • Breach of other obligations written in the lease agreement, such as unauthorised pets.

Landlords should note there may be grounds for a tenant to appeal these reasons for eviction and have them overturned, including age, health, and lack of alternative accommodation.

Issuing notices

Before you can evict tenants, the correct notices need to be delivered to them and the tenant must have the opportunity to remedy any issues.

Notice types and periods can differ from state-to-state. The reason for eviction can also impact how much notice is to be given.

For example, in most states tenants must be served a Notice to Remedy if they haven’t paid their rent. They will be given 14 days to make the payment. Only at the end of that period, and if the rent hasn’t been paid, can the landlord issue an eviction notice.

Some evictions will require longer notice periods than others. Breaches of lease agreement generally require 14 days’ notice.

It’s important that landlords and property managers adhere to these requirements, as failing to do so could also impact their ability to claim losses through their landlord insurance.

Evicting the tenant

A termination of lease notice must be provided to tenants to end the lease and enforce their eviction.

The termination notice must:

  • Be in writing.
  • Be signed and dated by the property manager or landlord / property owner.
  • Be properly addressed to the tenant with their correct, legal name.
  • Give the day on which the lease agreement is terminated and by which date the tenant is required o vacate.
  • Where appropriate, give the grounds or reason for the notice.
  • Be sure to keep a copy of this notice as proof of evicting the tenants.

When evicting tenants, it’s important to follow the correct steps. Failing to do so could result in a landlord being taken to court or tenancy tribunal, where they could be ordered to pay compensation or have the eviction overturned.

Written by Carolyn Parrella

Carolyn Parrella

Carolyn Parrella is executive manager at Terri Scheer, Australia’s landlord insurance specialist.

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