Termination Notices

Rosy Sullivan

Terminating a tenancy agreement is never a nice job to fulfil, however necessary it may be. Unfortunately it comes with the territory of being a property manager and it is the job you need to do to protect your client, the landlord.

Timing is everything when it comes to terminating tenancy and fortunately for the landlord, the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 made some adjustments as to the timing of serving notices and approaching the Tribunal when terminating due to non-payment of rent.  Unfortunately, not all property managers have made themselves aware of these changes to the legislation.

Section 88(3) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, allows the tenant to pay the outstanding amount prior to the termination date or enter into and fully comply with a payment arrangement for the payment of outstanding rent prior to the end of the termination notice period.

The problem lies when we encounter the repeat offenders, who are constantly late in paying rent by 14 days or more.  You issue a termination notice and the tenant waits until the last day or two of the notice to pay the outstanding amounts, and make a habit of repeating this process over and over. This is not only frustrating for you as the agent but also frustrating for the landlord to have a tenant who is in constant breach of the tenancy agreement.

Section 88 (4) specifically allows for the landlord/agent to apply to the Tribunal before the final day of the termination period for a termination order in the circumstances where the tenant is a constant re-offender for being late with rent. It doesn’t allow the agent to attend the Tribunal for orders before the termination notices final day, as the Tribunal cannot hear the matter until the termination notice period has expired.

What it does allow for is the agent to make the application prior to the end of the notice period so they save some time, and are allocated a hearing date, usually only a day or two after the termination period finishes.

Taking this last section further, Section 89 (5) states that the Tribunal may, on application by a landlord, make a termination order, even if the tenant has paid the outstanding rents or complied fully with a payment plan to pay the outstanding rents, if it is satisfied that the tenant has frequently failed to pay rent owing for the residential premises on or before the day set out in the residential tenancy agreement.

It is your job as the agent appointed by the landlord, to get the best result for your client, and to know what you can and cannot legally do when dealing with constant repeat offenders for non-payment of rent.  If your tenant is causing you to send that termination notice regularly, perhaps you should be looking into your options as set out above to ensure your client receives a more timely order in their favour.