Released every month our debt collection blog contains news, stories and tips to keep you informed.
With many consumers facing financial difficulty we are seeing more enquiries regarding the collection of rental arrears. With investment properties sometimes forming a large part of a families income and many pensioners relying on this income to fund their retirement it is important to take early action to minimise any potential loss.
The Reason for Rental Arrears
Like most referrals to our office the reasons vary however typically rental arrears is primarily due to the tenant losing his or her employment, an increase in the cost of living, a reduction in work hours or a change from full-time to part-time employment or some other unforeseen event.
The law varies from State to State however a tenant must usually be more than 7 days in arrears before any kind of demand for payment can be made. The correct documentation must also be issued which advises the tenant of the arrears outstanding and asking when payment can be expected.
Can I Help The Tenant?
Yes and this is often the ideal solution.
Agreeing to a tenant making increased repayments to clear the arrears can sometimes work out better for both parties in the long term as you do not need to find a new tenant and there is every possibility the arrears will be paid without the tenant vacating the property and owing you money. There are also a number of organisations that a tenant may seek assistance from if they need support. These include:
- Tenants NSW
- Tenants QLD
- Tenants Union of Victoria
- Tenants' Advice Service (ACT)
- Tenancy WA
- Office of Consumer & Business Services (SA)
- The Tenants' Union of Tasmania
- Consumers Affairs NT
Issuing a Breach Notice
Any Breach Notice must be issued in accordance with the relevant State legislation. You should make enquiries with your relevant tenancy tribunal as this varies around Australia.
Terminating the Tenancy
Termination of the tenancy should be the very last resort. If you have been unsuccessful in coming to an agreeable resolution a process must be followed which again varies from State to State. Locking tenants out of the property however without an Order from a Court or Tribunal is illegal.
Generally speaking the issue of a non-payment termination notice in writing does not officially end a tenancy. The tenancy is only officially ended once the tenants have vacated the property and the keys returned. If the tenant refuses you may have to look at commencing proceedings in the Court or through your relevant Tribunal.
Avoiding Future Issues
Clear communication and screening your tenants is the best way to avoid rental arrears and eviction. Ensure that any potential tenants are reference checked carefully, previous rental payment history is considered and enquiries made with employers to verify a tenants employment status and income. Where possible we also recommend that rental payments are made by direct debit on the tenants designated pay day to ensure prompt payment.
Legislation has been passed which gives the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) new powers to regulate this emerging sector. The laws provides ASIC with the power to protect at-risk consumers with James Shipton, ASIC Chair, stating, "These new powers will enable ASIC to take broader, more proactive action to improve standards and achieve fairer consumer outcomes in the financial services sector. This will be a significant boost for ASIC in achieving its vision of a fair, strong and efficient financial system for all Australians."
The reforms will be phased in over a period of 2 years and will require companies to identify in advance if a product is appropriate for a consumer. Read the ASIC media release at 19-079MR ASIC Welcomes Approval of New Laws to Protect Financial Service Consumers
A Queensland based casino has allegedly commenced proceedings in the High Court in Singapore to recover an AUD$43.2 million debt according to mygc.com.au
The Star Entertainment Group ("The Star") invited Dr Yew Choy Wong to play at their Broadbeach, QLD casino located on the Gold Coast to play as a VIP in July 2018. Dr Wong accepted the invite and it is alleged lost AUD$43.2 million over 5 days playing baccarat. It is alleged that Dr Wong supplied The Star with a blank cheque to cover any of his losses however once he left the casino the cheque was dishonoured with Mr Wong claiming that his bank would not honour the cheque due to alleged mistakes made by the dealer throughout the length of his stay.
In a letter from The Star to Dr Wong it is alleged that the casino acknowledged that mistakes had been made however claimed that these mistakes did not have a direct financial impact upon Dr Wong, however Dr Wong claims that the letter from the casino waived the debt as a result of the mistakes made.
In a statement to the media Dr Wong's solicitor said, "Dr Wong will contest the Singapore case as a matter of principle and intends to vindicate his decision to stop payment."