Tenancy Changes – Ending a Tenancy

Tenancy Changes:Part 1 – Getting Started

Tenancy Changes:Part 2 – Moving In

Ending a Tenancy

When it comes time to end the tenancy for whatever reason, its important that the tenant leaves the home with a good reputation and get their security bond back. If there is rent owing greater than the bond or a court has terminated the agreement the tenant may have their names placed on a tenancy database which may jepodise their ability to rent properties in the future.

Property owners or their agents must abide by the notice periods outlined in the Residential Tenancies Act and be reasonable when making claims on the tenant’s security bond.
Notice Periods.

A tenant or owner on a fixed term lease who doesn’t want to renew needs to give 30 days notice before the lease expires. If neither tenant or owner give notice to terminate, the fixed term lease will automatically become a periodic lease when 60 days notice of termination is required.

If a tenant on a fixed term lease needs to vacate the property before the expiry date they will have to pay rent until the replacement tenant is found and also compensate the owner for any other reasonable costs such as advertising.

For a periodic lease to be terminated the tenant must give at least 21 days notice in writing and the owner or agent must give 60 days notice. During this period prospective tenants can be shown through the property after giving the existing tenant reasonable notice. The tenant is entitled to be present during these home opens.

In cases where the home has been repossessed by the mortgagee such as a bank, the tenant will be given 30 days notice to move out.

Rent Increases

If the tenant wants to renew the lease for another fixed term, the property owner may decide to increase the rent depending on market conditions, however if the tenant considers the rent increase to be excessive or unreasonable under certain conditions the rent hike can be challenged in the Magistrates Court. In any event the rent increase cannot take effect in the first 30 days of the new agreement.

Final Inspection

The greatest number of complaints received by consumer protection each year relate to tenants who are not happy with the amount of bond money they get back. That’s why it is important to have a property condition report that clearly outlines the existing damage to the property at the beginning of the tenancy in case there are any disagreements at the end of the tenancy.

The property owner or their agent needs to give tenants the opportunity to be present during the final inspection and provide an updated property condition report within 14 days of the tenancy ending. The tenant may be liable for the cost of cleaning, minor repairs or replacement of items if the property is not in the same clean and undamaged condition as at the start of the lease.

If disputes over the bond can’t be resolved by negotiation tenants can go to the Magistrates Court.

Breach Notices and Evictions

If the tenant or property owner believes the tenancy agreement has not been honoured they can issue a breach notice which specifies at least 14 days for the breach to be rectified. For example this could be a notice from the tenant demanding payment for urgent repairs or a notice from the owner demanding outstanding rent be paid by the tenant. If not action is taken the matter can go before the Magistrates Court to issue an order which may be to the owner to compensate the tenant for repairs or for the tenant to be evicted for non payment of rent.

Evictions cannot occur in Western Australia without a court order and owners and property managers must have reasonable grounds for the eviction, such as non payment of rent for a lengthly period, excessive damaged, nuisance caused or evidence of criminal activity.
If the tenancy agreement is terminated by a court order this information may be placed on a tenancy database. A tenant’s name may also be put on the database if they vacate the property with outstanding rent which is greater than amount of the bond.

So it is always a good idea to leave on good terms.

More information can be found on the Consumer Protection website www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumerprotection or via email to consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 30 40 54.