It may have Australia’s smallest capital city, but Tasmania is definitely ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to tenant protection. The island state is the only one that refuses to allow tenants to be evicted without a valid reason. But does that lessen the fear of eviction that surveys suggest dominates most Australian tenants’ interactions with their landlords or property owners? Baxton Property Management in Hobart finds that although this protection goes some of the way towards helping tenants in TAS feel more secure, many tenants in Hobart still face major stressors caused by a shortage of rental accommodation.
Australia’s first national tenant survey, held early in 2017, listed lack of security due to fear of eviction as one of the biggest factors affecting tenants in a country where, according to the 2016 Census, around one out of every three residents live in rental accommodation. Conducted by the National Association of Tenant Organisations, the Choice consumer group, the National Shelter NGO, the survey found tenants were so scared of eviction or blacklisting, they would rather live in unsatisfactory conditions than risk annoying their landlords by requesting repairs.
Evicting a Tenant in TAS
Hobart tenants can take comfort in the fact that should the feared notice to vacate actually arrive, it may not be valid unless it is justified. The clause requiring a valid reason for eviction does not mean tenants can’t be evicted. It just means they can’t be tossed out on the streets by their landlord, based merely on a whim, or as retribution for a tenant requesting a repair.
Tasmanian landlords can only have six scenarios in which they can set an eviction process in motion, and a detailed reason must be provided for each of them. The situations include rent arrears, a breach of the Residential Tenancy Act or their tenancy agreement, and causing a severe nuisance through acts of violence or serious damage.
Other factors that can motivate notices to vacate during a fixed term lease, are when that lease is due to expire within 60 days, or when a lending institution has repossessed the property. On a non-fixed term lease, the owner can also issue it when he or she no longer wants to rent out the property, or wants to sell it or renovate it. All these processes involve notice periods.
Issuing a notice to vacate is followed, in instances like rental arrears, by 14-day periods during which the tenant can sort out the problem if possible by repairing damage or paying outstanding rent. This invalidates the notice.
What is a Notice to Vacate?
All notices to vacate include the names of both the landlord and the tenant, the address of the rental property, and the dates on which it is served, and when it takes effect. In Tasmania, it must also include a reason which the court considers justifies the notice.
If tenants ignore the notice and don’t leave the rental, the landlord can apply to the Magistrates Court for a Vacant Possession Order. This is where Tasmania’s lone call for a valid and detailed reason really comes into play. If the court doesn’t feel the owner’s action is justified, the notice will not be issued.
With more than a century of experience in its field, Baxton Property Management is very aware of the feeling of insecurity that can haunt both tenants and property owners because of the emotional and personal aspects inherently involved in the rental operation. For tenants, the property fills their need for home and shelter, while for property owners it is a valuable asset and source of income. In many cases the tenancy process runs more smoothly when the relationship is in the hands of a professional and objective rental agent or property manager. Visit the Baxton blog for more information of relevance to both tenants and landlords.
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