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Rental Properties: How to resolve owner/tenant disputes
In any contractual agreement there is the potential for dispute. In the majority of cases landlords and tenants manage to resolve their issues amicably, both realising that disputes cost time and energy, and can have major financial implications. But, Murphy’s Law, disputes will arise. Baxton Property Management in Hobart points out ways to avoid such clashes.
The most important safeguard is to have a watertight contract or lease agreement which specifies the security deposit (bond) and rent increases, and a condition of the premises report. These documents will be invaluable in speedily settling most disputes between tenant and landlord.
Mediation comes first
Talking can help. In the event of a dispute, it is always best to try mediation first. It is in the interest of both parties to settle the dispute as quickly and amicably as possible. If, for whatever reason, communicating with each other doesn’t help reach an agreement, there are NGO’s and associations that offer mediation facilities, and they don’t cost an arm and a leg. If you do reach an agreement by yourselves, or with the help of one of these bodies, put it in writing and have both parties sign it.
The Tenant’s Union of Tasmania, for example, looks after the interests of tenants. For landlords, there are numerous resources to tap into for assistance in mediation including the Legal Aid Commission, a community legal service or a solicitor.
Taking the legal route
You’ve tried mediation and it hasn’t worked; what do you do now? The inevitable consequence of a failure at mediation will be the vacation of the property by the tenant. If the tenant decides to move, then the dispute is resolved, security deposits are returned and that’s the end of that.
If it’s the tenant who has initiated the dispute (say about the security deposit) and the landlord wants to contest the causes of the disagreement, then the tenant has the right to go to the Residential Tenancy Commissioner through Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading. It’s a simple procedure. Forms can be downloaded and lodged with a fee of $15. The Commissioner must then inform the owner of the dispute; who with a fee of $15, may then lodge evidence in support of his counterclaim. The Commissioner will adjudicate and deliver a resolution which is binding to both parties.
The final step
If all else fails, the final step is involving the Magistrates Court. The Residential Tenancy Commissioner’s decision must be obeyed within 7 days. Failing this, either party has the right to appeal to the Magistrate’s Court. Unfortunately for the property owner, this invariably means hiring an attorney, who will then apply for a Notice to Vacate. If the tenant still refuses to vacate, a Vacant Possession order is issued, which can be enforced.
As you can imagine disputes between tenant and landlord must be avoided at all costs. The appointment of a reliable property manager will go a long way to avoiding unnecessary disputes. After 100 years of collective experience in managing rental properties, Baxton Property Management in Hobart prides itself on its ability to maintain amicable relations between tenants and property owners. Visit the Baxton website for more information.
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We hope you enjoyed this article
The information contained in this article is based on the authors opinion only and is of a general nature which is not indicative of future results or events and does not consider your personal situation or particular needs. Professional advice should always be sought relevant to your circumstances.
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