How to Deal With Rent Arrears
When a tenant or resident fails to pay rent by the due date, they are considered to be ‘in arrears’. Under most of the tenancy agreements, rents are required to be paid in advance on the same day of each month. There are various other consequences that you may have to face when you fail to pay your rent by the due date. Read more to know how to deal with rent arrears in Australia.
When you have a low income or livening on benefits, paying your rent in fortnightly instalment may seem to be more feasible to you. However, all tenancy agreements mostly require that the rent is paid monthly all in once. So, if you want to pay your rent weekly instead of monthly, you will have to get approval from the real estate agent or landlord. Make sure you get rent receipts whenever you pay your rent and it should include the period for which the rent is paid.
If you didn’t pay your rent and you are 14 days in arrears, your landlord has the right to give you a 14-day Notice to Vacate. Such notice to vacate should be given by hand, by registered post, or by electronic communication. A notice for rent can be given for the rent that is overdue. Your landlord cannot give you Notice to Vacate if you are 14 days in rent arrears. If you receive such notice and you are unable to make a payment you can contact your landlord to explain why you missed the due date and when you will be paying.
You can offer to pay the rent off over time, if you are unable to pay the arrears in one payment. Your landlord has no right to personally attempt to evict you. Only the police can evict you only if they have a valid Possession Order and a Warrant of Possession from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
If you are unable to make payment or the landlord or agent rejects your offer, your landlord should follow proper legal procedure to evict you. Only if there has been a hearing at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the Tribunal has granted a Possession Order to the landlord and after that a Warrant of Possession has been bought by the landlord and the Police come to execute that warrant, you can be evicted. If you do not want to be evicted you must attend the Tribunal hearing. If you have paid off your arrears and your landlord or agent informs you that you do not need to go to the hearing, do check to confirm that the application has been withdrawn.
At the Tribunal hearing, the Tribunal Member may adjourn the application for a Possession Order if you can prove that a repayment plan has been agreed upon or show the Tribunal how you are going to pay off the arrears so that the landlord will not suffer any financial loss. Having a reasonable plan to pay back the arrear will help you to avoid such Possession Order.
At the Tribunal hearing try to take as much evidence as possible to show how you got into rent arrears and how you are going to pay for it. You can include evidence such as a statement from a financial counsellor outlining your income and expenditure. You can also ask a friend of family member to support your case and give evidence at the hearing.
When a Tribunal adjourns such application, it will only be for a short period of time, usually not for more than 3 months. Here ‘adjourn’ means, your eviction will be put on hold and you will be given a second chance so that you can repay the arrears within a set date and the Tribunal will later consider withdrawal of your application and close the matter. If you still fail to pay the arrear and do not abide by the order, your landlord can ‘renew’ the application. You will then receive a Notice of Hearing and you will have to go for to the second hearing and give a solid reason for not abiding by the order or else you will be evicted.