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REIQ Journal : December January 2009
44 PROPERTY MANAGEMENT Stacey Holt, Senior Best Practice and Policy Advisor, REIQ The file copy of the Form11 should be placed in your follow up system, or immediately filed in the property file. If the tenant pays their rent within the remedy notice period, no further action would be taken. Reminder systems need to be updated for the time when the notice will expire and if the notice is not remedied (ie if the tenant doesn’t pay their rent) lessor instructions must be sought regarding the next course of action. Property managers should seek lessor instruction – preferably in writing – before issuing a Form12 Notice to Leave. Once a Form12 has been issued to a tenant, the option is with the lessor, which means that the lessor may enforce the notice even if the tenant pays rent. Section 197(2)(a) states that if a notice to leave is issued because of an unremedied breach for failure to pay rent, the time frame is seven days. Again property managers either hand deliver (if possible) or post the notice, ensuring that the adequate postage time frames are accounted for in the notice period. It is critical that property managers endeavour to keep communication channels open with the tenant, and ensure the lessor is kept fully informed of any developments. If the tenant fails to pay the owed rent during the notice to leave period, and/or the lessor instructs the property manager – preferably in writing – to enforce the notice and pursue with vacant possession, the property manager should provide the tenant further written instruction. Thiswould include another letter advising the vacate procedures such as cleaning requirements, instructions for the exit condition report, and advice to the tenant regarding the handover of keys on the final day of the notice. If the tenant fails to vacate on the handover day (final date of the notice to leave), property managers should seek further instruction and confirmation from the lessor to then proceed to apply to the small claims tribunal for an urgent application for termination/warrant of possession. Time is always of the essence, so this application should be made immediately after the notice to leave has expired. It is imperative that property managers adhere to Section 11 of the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Real Estate Agency Practice Code of Conduct and keep their lessor informed of all significant developments and issues in relation to their property. A nonpaying tenant could cause considerable stress for the lessor, who has to meet their financial commitments regardless of the situation. Property managers must remain professional and empathetic yet firmwith all parties and remember their key role – to communicate and negotiate, and to act in the lessor’s best interests at all times. REIQ Journal December 2008/January 2009