Rental disputes: Information for property owners
The Magistrates Court hears disputes and make decisions about residential tenancy matters.
You’ll also find detailed and easy to understand information about your rights and responsibilities at the Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading website. This includes The Rental Guide.
Ending a lease
A lease (or ‘residential tenancy agreement’) can be ended in many ways:
- if both you and the tenant agree to agree
- if you give your tenant a Notice to Vacate (DOCX, 13.0 KB). This is explained in detail below
- if your tenant gives you a Notice to Terminate
- if your tenant abandons the premises
- by a court order
Ending a lease urgently
You can apply for an ‘urgent termination’ of a lease if your tenant has caused (or is likely to cause):
- serious damage to your premises or contents, and/or
- physical injury to you or another party or occupant of the premises
In this case:
- there will be no 14 day waiting period for the lease to end
- your claim must include details and dates of threats, damage and/or physical damage
Complete the Residential Tenancy Application form (DOCX, 28.1 KB) and lodge it with your local court.
Serving a 'Notice to Vacate' to end a lease
You can serve a Notice to Vacate (DOCX, 13.0 KB) on your tenant, but only in these circumstances:
- for a fixed-term lease, if the lease is due to expire within the next 60 days. In this case, you must give at least 42 days’ notice to your tenant
- if your tenant has breached the lease. However, if the notice is given because the tenant has failed to comply with a term of the agreements, and the tenant then complies before 14 days has passed, then the notice has no effect
- if your tenant has caused a substantial nuisance
- for a lease without a fixed-term, if the property is to be sold, renovated, rented to a family member, or used for a purpose other than rental. In this case, you must give 42 days’ notice to your tenant. If the premises are to be sold, you must serve the notice with proof of an agreement to sell the premises
- whatever the nature of the lease, you can serve a notice to vacate if the property is sold by a lending institution to recover money that you owe to the institute. In this case, you must give 60 days’ notice to your tenant
Make sure you complete the Notice to Vacate completely and accurately so it is valid.
If your tenant does not vacate: What a vacant possession order is
If your tenant hasn’t vacated your property after you’ve served the Notice to Vacate, you can apply to the court for a ‘Vacant Possession’ order.
- apply by completing a Residential Tenancy Application form (DOCX, 28.1 KB) fully and accurately and taking it to your local court
- give a copy of your claim form to your tenant as soon as possible
If you don’t apply within 28 days of the Notice to Vacate taking effect, the notice lapses. This means you must serve another Notice to Vacate if you want to pursue the matter.
When considering your application, the court will consider if:
- you gave the tenant the Notice to Vacate properly
- the reasons for serving the notice were genuine or just
- you served the tenant with a copy of your claim form within a reasonable time before the matter was heard in court
When a tenant abandons premises and property
You can apply for an order to declare that a tenant has abandoned the property: that is, they’ve left the property without notice or if you haven’t served them with a Notice to Vacate.
If the tenant leaves goods behind when they leave the property, that appear to be worth more than $300, you can apply for an order to sell these goods.
In both instances, complete the Residential Tenancy Application form (DOCX, 28.1 KB) and lodge it with your local court.
Your application must include:
- a copy of the lease
- confirmation that neither a Notice to Vacate nor a Residential Tenancy Application form has been served
- details of the goods to be sold, and their estimated value
Appealing the return of a bond
You or the tenant can appeal a decision by the Residential Tenancy Commissioner about the return of a bond (or ‘security deposit’).
You must make your appeal within 7 days of the Commissioner’s decision.
Complete the Notice of Appeal (DOCX, 26.0 KB) form and lodge it with your local court.
Your appeal must be made against the tenant (not the Commissioner); and you must provide details of the dispute and reasons for your appeal.
A new hearing will take place, and you’ll be able to call witnesses and present evidence.
Repair and maintenance matters
Repair and maintenance matters for property owners and tenant are handled by the Residential Tenancy Commissioner. For more information see the ‘Orders for Repairs fact Sheet’ on the Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading website.