opinion

Managing the vacate process

By Diane Bukowski
0

Diane Bukowski smallThe ‘Vacate Process” is the period between the issuing of the termination advice and the time the bond is settled. It is in the interests of all parties for the process to run smoothly, the best way to achieve this is through clear communication, good organisation and perhaps a little give and take.

BloggerDiane Bukowski, Managing Director, Eezirent Pty Ltd

The reasons why the tenants are moving out will directly impact the process and the time frame in which it will occur. Did the tenant give notice – or is their lease not being renewed?  Have the tenants breached the lease?

For the purposes of this discussion, we will assume that the tenants are vacating because the landlord does not want to renew the lease. We’ll deal with vacating due to a breach termination at a later date.

Notice Periods

The amount of notice one party must give the other is determined by two factors:
•    The nature of the lease (fixed term or periodic)
•    The reason for the termination
•    The relevant state legislation

 

State

Reason for Termination

Notice*

ACT

Fixed Term lease - without cause.

26 weeks

Periodic lease – you, an immediate relative or a person who is not an immediate relative but has a close family or personal relationship with you genuinely intend to live in the property.

4 weeks

Periodic lease - you genuinely intend to sell the property

8 weeks

Periodic lease – you genuinely intend to renovate or make major repairs to the property which cannot be carried out with the tenant in residence

12 weeks

Periodic lease – without cause – meaning none of the above reasons apply

26 weeks

NT

Fixed Term lease – without cause

14 days

Periodic lease – without cause

42 days

NSW

Fixed Term lease – without cause

30 days

Periodic lease – without cause

90 days

Qld

Fixed Term lease – without cause

2 months

Periodic lease – without cause

2 months

SA

Fixed Term lease – without cause

4 weeks

Periodic lease – without cause

90 days

Periodic lease – termination required for major renovations, landlord, spouse or child’s occupation; vacant possession required for sale of property

60 days

Tas

Fixed Term lease – without cause

14 days as long as the lease end date is within 28 days

No fixed date lease – without cause

14 days

Vic

Fixed Term lease – without cause

120 days

Fixed Term lease – for leases of 6 months or more

90 days

Fixed Term lease – for leases of 6 months or less

14 days

WA

Fixed Term lease – without cause

1 month

 

Periodic lease – without cause

60 days

* postage days may need to be added to the notice period

Documentation

Remember, notices need to be given in writing. Always keep a copy, allow for ‘postage days’ and make a diary note of the correspondence.
The essential documents you will need are:
1.    The written notice of termination
2.    The Property Condition/Entry Report
3.    Refund of Rental Bond

The Handover Date

This is usually the expiry date of the lease – but it is possible to adjust this by a day or two if necessary and if both parties agree. This is where the give and take comes in.  It is worth making a few friendly telephone calls to the tenant during the vacate process to make sure they are on track to have things ready for the handover date.

Returning the Keys

Make clear and specific arrangements with the tenant for the return of keys and remote controls. Aim to have them back in your possession by midday on the day after handover.  The tenant is liable to replace lost or broken keys and remotes.  The tenant is liable to pay rent until the keys are returned.

Inspecting the vacated property

The completion of the Condition Report is very important. It is the basis for the bond refund.
Remember ‘fair wear and tear’.  This is particularly relevant for internal paintwork and carpets – especially if the tenants have been in the property a long time.  For example, realistically, paintwork in the family room is not likely to be spotless after tenants have lived there for several years. It needs to be clean and undamaged though.  Make sure you take plenty of photographs – especially if there are issues.

Giving the tenants time to fix things

If your vacate inspection uncovers some issues you must give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to revisit the property to fix it, or for them to engage someone to do so on their behalf.  The definition of 'reasonable amount of time' is about 2 to 3 days. Obviously, it will depend on the location, the problem and even the time of the year.

Refunding the Bond

The biggest mistake landlords make here is that they think the bond is their money. It isn’t. It belongs to the tenant. This means that you need to act promptly to settle the bond.
If you want to claim some or all of the bond for repairs, cleaning or unpaid rent then you must be able to substantiate the claim. If the claim relates to the state of the property, the best evidence is the information contained in the Entry Condition of Premises report. In some states the landlord cannot make a claim against the bond if an entry report was not completed.

Finally, don’t rush the time between the old tenants moving out and the new tenants moving in.  Do not allow the next tenants to move in until the property is cleaned and ready. Give yourself enough time to prepare a thorough Entry Condition Report for the new lease. Yes, you might be without rent for a few days, but potential issues during the next vacate process will be minimised.

 


About Diane Bukowski
Diane Bukowski big

From school teacher to website entrepreneur, Diane Bukowski is the managing director of Eezirent – an online service delivering professional tools to self-managing landlords.  
After many years running an award winning real estate office, Diane took up the challenge offered by her business partner to set up a service that would level the playing field for self-managing landlords. The result is Eezirent which allows these investors to advertise their property on www.realestate.com.au, verify their applicants with the National Tenancy Database, and access the documentation and knowledge needed to efficiently manage a lease.
Diane’s blogs aim to provide practical advice to the self-managing landlord.

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