It’s a situation every commercial landlord dreads, but most will encounter at one time or another. Having to evict a tenant is unpleasant and stressful, but sometimes you have no choice. Whether it’s non-payment of rent, damage caused to the building or behaviour that breaches the terms of their lease, evicting a tenant is sometimes unavoidable.
Even though it’s not nice, there is a right way and a wrong way to evict a tenant and because of the legal implications that come with property rental in Australia, it’s essential that you follow the correct process.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate the minefield smoothly and avoid the likelihood that your tenant will take legal action against you.
- Get the lease right. Your lease is important when it comes to protecting you against non rent payment or other behaviour. The lease should stipulate exactly what is and isn’t allowed, and at what stage a tenant will be evicted. You will need to abide exactly by the terms of the lease if you want to avoid any legal trouble. If the lease is unclear or open to interpretation you could have a problem enforcing it.
- Notify the tenant in writing. You can’t just go in and change the locks or throw your tenant’s property out on the street, no matter how late they are with their rent. Before you can take action you’re required to notify the tenant in writing to tell them they have breached their lease, explain how and give them an opportunity to remedy the breach (by paying rent plus interest, or fixing the damage).
- Evict the tenant. Once a reasonable amount of time has passed, if your tenant hasn’t remedied the breach of their lease you can evict them. This is where you definitely need to seek legal advice as to the exact procedure you follow. It’s not a pleasant situation but once it’s over you can move on and hopefully put it behind you.
Dealing with tenants is an important part of managing any commercial property but it can be fraught with difficulties for many landlords. If you’re in any doubt as to how to proceed, speak to an experienced property manager for advice. A commercial property manager will be versed in the legal aspects of commercial property and handling tenant disputes, including the eviction process.