Question: I’m currently renting out a unit to who, in my eyes, is a great tenant. He pays on time and hardly ever requests anything from me. He also pays a rental price that is, to be honest, quite a lot higher than many similar properties in the area. The only problem is that I’ve heard a lot of complaints about him from the neighbours, who I know well. They say he regularly has jam sessions with a band in the living room and refuses to turn the volume down, even late into the night. I’m also told that he has made uninvited sexual advances on at least two girls in the complex.
My neighbours say it is up to me to sort him out and have asked if I can find a new tenant. I think they are being a bit timid and should approach him themselves, but a request is a request. What should I do? Do I let him stay, or take one for the team knowing that I might not find a new tenant who will pay as much? The lease expires in five months.
Answer: I would have to say that these types of issues can be the most difficult to deal with. Having said this, you need to act immediately and firmly on these issues. Everyone is entitled to quiet enjoyment of their home and if your tenant is disrupting the neighbours he can be evicted for failing to keep the peace.
The first step is to talk with the tenant and make it clear that he is obliged to allow neighbours to have privacy, peace and comfort. Give him a chance to improve his behaviour, but let him know that what he has been doing is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
At the same time, inform the tenant that you value him, that you would like him to continue at the property and that you do not want to take action against him. Let him know that you will support him if he does the right thing but that he has to earn that support by being a respectful member of the community.
Remind him of his responsibilities, appeal to his sense of decency, and emphasise that respect is a two-way street – if he does not give it, he will not receive it.
If things don’t improve, tenants can be served with breach notices and be evicted from their properties for violating other residents’ quiet enjoyment of their home, regardless of the length of their lease. The laws differ between states and there are various procedures which must be followed, but the bottom line is that if this tenant continues doing what he is doing he can be forced to relocate.
In practice, some tenants will respond and everyone will be happy, while others will not and terminating the lease may be the best outcome.
You should also let the neighbours know that you have taken action so they do not take action against you.
These cases highlight the benefits of having a professional property manager to manage your property. They know the rules in dealing with uneasy situations, they have the experience to handle them and they have the impartiality to make a swift decision in the best interests of the people involved. Too often, people who manage their own properties get too close to the tenants and are unable to quickly resolve issues when they arise which only leads to them becoming worse.
- Answer provided by Rob Farmer, RUN Property
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