What you need to know about switching property managers

Switching property managers isn’t as difficult or as expensive as many may think. There are many misconceptions on when and how you can change property managers, leading to owners clenching their teeth and bearing through terrible service, counting the days until their agreement is over or their tenants move out. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Don’t be stuck with a subpar property manager! If your property manager isn’t cutting it and not undertaking the responsibilities listed in your agreement, this might be your calling to consider switching. After all, it’s a two-way street, and there’s no reason to pay a portion of your rental income for unsatisfactory service. 

Common misconceptions about switching

These are some of the most common misconceptions amongst property owners:

  • I have to wait until the tenancy is up before switching property managers
  • It will bring a massive change and disruption to my tenant
  • I will have to find new tenants for my property 
  • A new lease will have to be signed by my tenants

It is a common misconception amongst property investors that it will disrupt their tenants if they switch property managers. If a property manager has a good transition process that considers the wellbeing of the tenants, the switch may lead to happier tenants.

The truth about switching

You can change property managers whenever you’re ready, with minimal disruption to both you and your tenants. If you’re worried that you’ll be causing inconvenience to your tenants, fret not. The property management contract only ends the relationship between you and your current property manager; the relation between you and your tenant will still be going strong. So you can rest assured that everything will remain the same, just with a much better property manager. 

Many property management agencies usually have a notice period for ending an agreement that can range from 30-90 days, depending on the state that you’re in.

Looking after your tenants from day one

Here at Dynamic Residential, we care about your tenants. We will always look after your best interests and ensure your property is taken care of, but we understand that a happy tenant is an essential piece of the equation.

“You can change property managers whenever you’re ready, with minimal disruption to both you and your tenants.”

How to know when it’s time to evict your tenant

“Problem tenants”. These two words pack enough punch to send a chill down the spines of even the most experienced investment property owners. 

You might have a tenant who’s consistently 20 days late in rent payments or one who’s always disturbing the lovely couple next door. You might be curious about what you can do if you ever find yourself in that situation. Whichever the case, evicting a tenant might be the most viable choice if they’re causing you enough grief.

In this article, we’ll cover the reasons for you to legally evict your tenant and map out the process so that you can get a sense of how it happens. Of course, we haven’t forgotten to include essential details like tenants’ rights, costs to consider, and where to go for support. 

By the time you reach the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the confidence and resources necessary to tackle your tenant eviction. 

Reasons to evict a tenant.

The reasons to evict a tenant range far and wide, but it’s essential to define your motives clearly. Why?

First, you need to make sure it’s substantial enough to warrant an eviction. If it isn’t, you might find yourself on the losing side in court. On top of that, there are different guidelines that you’ll need to follow depending on the reason for eviction. 

In this section, we’ll be covering the different types of reasons to evict a tenant.

Most common eviction reasons for problem tenants

1. Non-payment of rent

This is the most common reason we’ve heard when helping owners evict their problem tenants. Usually, it isn’t just a one-off situation, but one that’s occurred enough times to become an issue for the owner. 

According to Shannyn Laird, an experienced property manager with over 15 years of experience, it’s essential to have tried everything else before getting to the point of eviction. This means that your property manager would’ve tried to negotiate a payment plan or work with your tenant directly to find a resolution. 

“Our intention is certainly not to evict tenants. We’d rather keep them in their home if we can.”

Shannyn Laird, Head of Customer Experience

If things aren’t fixed even after negotiations, then you might need to take action to evict your tenant.

2. Failure to maintain the property 

Your tenant is obliged to take reasonable care of your property so that you’re not faced with excessive property maintenance issues. If they’ve made alterations to the home without your consent or caused damage resulting from deliberate or negligent behaviour, this may warrant an eviction.

3. Breach of agreement

Chances are, you most likely reached a consensus on several items when signing the tenancy agreement with your tenant. If your tenant has frequently failed to maintain any of those agreements, you might find yourself needing to evict them. 

Common breaches of the agreement include:

  • Nuisance (e.g. disturbing the neighbours) 
  • Subletting without your consent 
  • Non-payment of utility charges
  • Having pets on the premises when you have not permitted to do so
4. Engagement in illegal activity 

Suppose your tenant has been engaging in illegal activity on the premises, which provides you more than reasonable ground to evict your tenant. This includes:

  • Use of the premises for illegal purposes (e.g. drug manufacturing, storing stolen goods) 
  • Threat, intimidation, abuse, harassment 
  • Domestic violence

Owner reasons for eviction

You might be wondering: Can I evict my tenant to sell the property?

Indeed, in some cases, you’ll need to evict a tenant because of reasons on your end. This might be because you’ve sold your property and the new owners want it to be vacated, or simply because you need to repossess the home. Whatever the reason, owners have the right to terminate the tenancy without ground. However, you’ll need to provide notice to your tenants at an earlier date. 

We’ll set you up with more information on this in the next section, where we outline the process of evicting a tenant.

How to evict a tenant / how to evict a co-tenant: mapping the process

1. Issuing the notice 

Since there are many legal complexities in the steps to eviction, there are a couple of essential things to remember when issuing a termination notice (also known as a Notice to Vacate) to your tenant.

Make sure you provide the correct notice period. 

Notice periods can be incredibly confusing for landlords looking to evict a tenant by themselves. Depending on which state you’re in, there are different notice periods for other grounds for eviction.

As a general rule, you can expect to give 7-14 days’ eviction notice time for non-payment of rent and breach of agreement, and at least 42 days for termination without grounds. Note that you’ll need first to provide a Notice to Remedy to the violation before you can serve a Notice to Vacate in some cases. 

We’ve pulled together a list of resources by the state to help you determine how much notice you should give your tenant: 

Make sure you include all the necessary information in the notice 

The notice must be in writing and include: 

  • The address of the property
  • The owner’s full name/trading name
  • The full name of the tenant(s)
  • The grounds (if any) for termination 
  • The date on which the tenancy will be terminated
  • The signature of the landlord or property manager

Some state authorities have provided forms that are helpful when serving termination notices. We’ve compiled a list of links to these sites where you can get an eviction notice from landlord to tenant to fill in and hand to your tenant:

Make sure you serve the notice according to the guidelines in your state

Again, how you’re required to hand the information to your tenant differs from state to state. While in NSW, it’s okay to leave it in your tenant’s mailbox, the laws in Victoria make it so that you need to serve a notice by hand, by registered post, or by electronic communication if the tenant has consented to be contacted this way. 

The safest and surest way of serving notice no matter where you’re located is to hand it to the tenant in person. Sending by registered post is also an option, but you’ll need to make sure to factor in the postage dates.

It’s crucial when issuing the termination notice to check, check, and check again. If you miss any essential details, the tenant can dispute the termination of the lease on the basis that the notice was invalid.

Melbourne property

2. Applying to the Tribunal

If your tenant does not vacate by the date specified on the termination notice, then you should apply to your state’s Tribunal. You’re required to use within a certain period of the termination date written on the termination notice – again, this time frame varies, ranging from 2 weeks in Queensland to 30 days in Western Australia. 

To help you navigate the different requirements according to each state, we’ve provided helpful links to each state authority for more information:

3. Attending the Tribunal

You can choose to represent yourself on the day, or you can have your property manager mean you. 

To make a strong case, you must keep detailed records of the termination notice, how you served it, you and your tenants’ conduct about the tenancy agreement, evidence of rent payments, and any other documents that can support your case.

If the court rules in your favour, the Tribunal will issue a termination order (also known as a possession order) which sets a date by which the tenant must move out.

4. Evicting the tenant

Once the termination order is made, your tenant will need to move out by the date set by the Tribunal. If they don’t, you can apply for a warrant (known in most states as a Warrant of Possession) from the Tribunal – this allows law-enforcement authorities, i.e. the sheriff in NSW, the police in VIC, and the bailiff in WA, to remove the tenant from your property.

Illegal evictions

Even if your tenant has not moved out by the termination date, you should never take it upon yourself to forcefully evict your tenant, whether it’s by changing the locks or turning off the utilities, as this could lead to prosecution. Make sure to follow the legal way to evict a tenant, obtain a termination order and Warrant of Possession, and rely on the authorities to carry out the eviction.

What are tenants’ rights in the eviction process?

Especially when dealing with problem tenants, it can be easy to forget that they have rights that must be respected both before and when you start the eviction process.

So, what are the legal rights of tenants, and how might they affect you?

You’re likely already aware of tenants’ rights that protect them from excessive rent increases and oblige you to attend to urgent repairs.

However, in this section, we’ll be covering some additional tenants’ rights that can affect how smoothly the eviction progresses.

1. Staying after the termination date 

Tenants have the right to stay after the termination date in the notice issued by you or your property manager. They’re legally required to leave only after the Tribunal issues a termination order and a Warrant of Possession to remove the tenant from your property. 

2. Rent payments 

In most circumstances, if the tenant moves out before the termination date, they’ll only be required to pay rent up until the day that they vacate. The exception to this is if they were under a fixed-term lease, in which case they are usually liable for the rent until the end of the period in the agreement. 

3. Final inspection and return of bond money 

Suppose the Tribunal has not made an order dealing specifically with the bond. In that case, you are required to give a reasonable opportunity for the tenant to attend a final routine inspection and provide them with a copy of the outgoing condition report. After agreeing to the amount of money that the tenant owes, you can then lodge a refund to your relevant authority for the bond money.

4. How are tenants’ rights affected by COVID-19?

State governments have introduced new restrictions on landlords seeking to evict rental tenants due to arrears as a result of COVID-19. You can read about the residential tenancy moratorium on evictions during COVID-19 here:

NSW tenancy moratorium

VIC tenancy moratorium

QLD tenancy moratorium

Calculating the costs of evicting your tenant

Because this is such an arduous and convoluted process…

What is the cost to evict a tenant? 

Let’s break it down. 

First, there is the Tribunal application fee – this can range from $26.95 in Queensland to $162 in the ACT – and this is just the initial cost. Applications for a Warrant of Possession can set you back a further $114 if you’re in Victoria, and having authorities enforce the warrant will cost you if you’re in NSW. 

If you’ve then recruited the help of a property manager whose rental eviction and Tribunal fees aren’t included in their base rate, you’ll potentially be paying hundreds more to evict your tenant.

This is when you might want to start thinking about how to find a suitable property manager who doesn’t charge you additional fees to evict a tenant – and who has a good reason not to do so.

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