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July 5, 2023

Dealing With Your Tenants

Toowoomba is becoming a hotspot for property investors – thanks to our growing population, excellent infrastructure, low vacancy rates and rising rents.

In fact, according to the 2021 Census, around a third of all dwellings in Toowoomba (32.9%) are now owned by investors and rented – up from 26.3% in 2001.

Thankfully, almost all of these tenancies are uneventful and run smoothly. But from time to time, problems can arise, including late rent payment (or not paying it all), malicious damage and other issues – some of which can even lead to eviction.

For a landlord, discovering that you have problems with your tenant can be a huge headache and can quickly spiral out of control, both financially and emotionally. So putting the right strategies in place and following the right procedures is critical.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to effectively managing difficult tenants fairly.

1. Keep the communication lines open

Great communication is key to any successful tenancy, but it becomes vital when a problem arises, or relations look like they’re souring.

Good communication avoids any misunderstandings, and can often nip a problem in the bud early by finding a quick solution.

The best approach is usually to be direct and personal: make a phone call or communicate in person (but don’t just “pop in” there are guidelines you need to follow). Meaning can often get lost in a text or an email, and it can take longer for the whole thing to play out.

That said, we always recommend following up on any spoken communication in writing to confirm what was discussed or agreed upon and what the next steps should be.

2. Listen and be empathetic

Your investment property is your tenant’s home. And, like you, they have a whole life to worry about. Their rental property may just be a small part of what’s happening at any point in time.

There are always two sides to every story, so you should view each disagreement as a two-way street. It is possible to avoid things becoming emotional, heated and complicated by showing understanding and empathy. Simply listening can go a long way to avoiding further issues.

Understanding their point of view may show you why they are behaving the way they are, and offer a clear path to a solution.

For instance, are they late on rent because the payment date doesn’t line up with when they receive their pay? Or are they reluctant to accept a mid-week rental inspection because they work the night shift?

3. Bridge the gap and be willing to compromise

Naturally, after you’ve heard the tenant’s side of the story, you need to clearly state your own position. But the major job here is to bridge the gap and come to an amicable solution.

A little compromise may be needed to smooth things over and move forward. After all, if your tenant has been a good one up until this point, it may be worth your while to accommodate their needs if they are reasonable rather than deal with the financial uncertainty and time required to get a new tenant.

4. Document everything

As we noted above, you should always document any agreements and next steps in writing so that there’s no ambiguity.

In the unlikely event that you cannot come to an agreement, you should also send an email reiterating your position and explaining what action you will need to take next.

5. Issue a Notice to Leave if you need to end the tenancy

In our experience, the majority of tenants follow the rules and abide by their tenancy agreements. However in some situations, you might not be able to come to a solution.

If this happens, landlords have the right to take remedial action.

The most common way to end a tenancy agreement here in Queensland is by issuing a tenant with a Notice to Leave form. However, minimum notice periods apply when ending a tenancy, and these vary depending on the reason you’re issuing the form.

Changes to Queensland’s tenancy laws in October 2022 mean that rental property owners are no longer allowed to issue a Notice to Leave without grounds. You can only end a tenancy for specific reasons – although these are relatively broad.

If a tenant doesn’t leave the property by the nominated date, the landlord may apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) for a termination order.

There are strict regulations guiding the ending of a tenancy in QLD which are outlined in our article on evictions here. It’s important to follow them.

The benefit of a property manager in solving tenant disputes

Seventy per cent of Australian landlords use an agent to manage their investment property, according to an AHURI study – and for good reason. When problems arise, dealing directly with tenants can be stressful.

An experienced property manager not only knows the right procedures to follow when a tenant breaches the lease, they can act as a neutral, independent party who’s firm but fair. This often helps them resolve situations faster or prevent them from happening in the first place.

Our property managers can help ensure both sides adhere to their rights and responsibilities throughout a tenancy with regular rental reviews, inspections and communication.

Investing in landlord insurance for the worst-case scenario can also be a good idea and may offer financial protection in some situations, depending on your policy.

Are you looking to invest in Toowoomba real estate, rent out your property or find your next Toowoomba rental home? Contact us today to find out how we can help manage your investment.

Article by Karissa Tigges

Karissa’s property management journey commenced at RE/MAX Success in 2006, marking the beginning of a remarkable career characterized by her dedication, expertise, and leadership. With years of experience under her belt, she plays a pivotal … View profile

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