Around the office: Lately I have had a couple of very distressed property managers on behalf of their landlords. It seems a tenant can continue to live in a property without paying rent for up to three months just by knowing the system and using it to their advantage.
My advice to property investors is to understand how VCAT works and what can happen there. In that way you are prepared for the worst and will understand what your property manager is doing on your behalf. Read on to understand what can happen with rent arrears.
When I first came into real estate after being school principal at MLC Junior School it seemed I was a bit naïve when it came to VCAT. At the end of the first hearing I attended the member gave his decision and asked if I wanted to add anything. I said that I thought my landlord had not received justice. He smiled and said very politely, “Mrs Planinsek, what makes you think this has anything to do with justice.”
When a tenant doesn’t pay their rent our property managers follow correct procedure and issue a Notice to Vacate as soon as they are legally allowed to. They then apply for a hearing date at VCAT. This can be two to three weeks away (and occasionally longer). So the day of the hearing arrives.
By now the tenant has been living in our landlord’s property for five weeks without paying rent. A couple of times recently the tenants didn’t attend the hearing. We (on behalf of our landlords) were granted possession of the property (i.e. the tenant has to move out). We followed correct procedure with the warrant and police.
This can take one to two weeks depending on the availability of the police. Then surprise, surprise the day the property manager had arranged to attend the property with the police officer the tenant contacts VCAT. They plead their case and VCAT postpones the warrant and sets a new hearing date, which can add an extra couple of weeks. Remember meantime our landlord is still not receiving rent.
One of worst experiences so far is when the tenant did attend the next hearing and was granted a payment plan. The tenant didn’t follow the payment plan and so we had to reopen the file at VCAT and go back again, and again and again. Each time there is a warrant, a time arranged with the police and so on.
One tenant recently made up sicknesses, a death in the family and a couple of other tall tales. She phoned Vcat on the day of the hearing and was granted an extension several times. Not only is the landlord out of pocket until the insurance claim is lodged cialisfrance24.com and paid but we are also wasting so much time going to VCAT with no result. Our managers have also attended a property with the police and a warrant for possesion then discovered the tenant had managed another extension at the 11th hour. Grrrr ….
We have had 3 and 4 appeals by some tenants. They stay in the property the whole time not paying rent. Eventually they will be evicted but in the meantime all the time and money spent on the process is huge. Where is the justice for the landlord? I forgot, VCAT is not about justice! BUT my advice for the prudent property investor is make sure you have landlord insurance which covers all or part of loss of rent.
I am happy to discuss this or other landlord issues or answer questions. Give me a call on 0413 740 917 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org