Rent Arrears

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The Residential Tenancy Act 1997 is very specific as to the rights and responsibilities of landlords/agents and tenants when it comes to the payment of rent for a
tenancy.

Rent in Advance

Rent is required to be paid in advance during the term of the lease whether it be for a fixed term lease or a non-fixed term lease.

For example: You move in on July 1st and you pay rent every fortnight. You will pay rent on July 1st and that will cover you for the fortnight from July 1st to July 14th. In other words, you pay for time that you will be in the property, not the time you have already been in the property.

Payment Period

A payment period is how often you have to pay rent according to the lease. A payment period cannot exceed four weeks (or two weeks for boarding premises).
 

Generally a payment period for rent is either one or two weeks. Whatever payment period you have accepted as a term of your lease you must remain in advance for this period.

A payment period cannot be changed unless all parties to the agreement accept any change. Note that in Tasmania, it is illegal for a
landlord to charge rent per calendar month.

Rent Arrears

Rent Arrears occur when you are in the property but you have not paid rent for the period you are in the property.

However, it is not the same as the rent in advance period. For example: You pay rent fortnightly and the next payment period is for April 1st to April 14th. If you do not pay the rent until April 5th, you would have been in arrears from April 1st until April 4th.

Once paid you would no longer be in arrears until April 14. If you regularly paid the rent five days late, you would be breaching the rent in advance clause in your lease.

You must always pay rent when it falls due. This is a condition of all lease agreements. Should you get behind in your rental payments the landlord/agent may issue you with an Notice to Vacate (eviction notice) for rent arrears.

This notice must specify the amount of arrears owing at the time the notice is provided. A Notice to Vacate for rent arrears must give you at least fourteen days notice to solve the problem. This allows you:

  • to pay the arrears owing, thus remedying the problem (and therefore no further action can be taken) or
  • you can vacate the property (note that any rent arrears may be taken from your bond).

It is important to note that during a twelve month period, if you get three Notices to Vacate specifically for rent arrears, the landlord/agent is entitled to rely on the third notice to have you vacate the property even if you are able to pay the arrears owing.

If an landlord/agent issues the third and final Notice to Vacate and you do not vacate the property they may apply to the Magistrates Court for an Order for Vacant Possession. This may also occur on any other Notice to Vacate for arrears if the arrears are not paid.

If you do get behind in the rent we recommend the following:

  • Be active in finding a solution and DO NOT ignore the problem.
  • Contact the landlord/agent to discuss the issue as soon as possible.
  • If possible pay the arrears or enter into a payment plan to repay the arrears.
  • Contact the Tenants’ Union if you have any queries about the legality of the action taken against you.
  • The following organisations may provide assistance in paying rent arrears and bonds (conditions apply):

North
Private Rental Support Service (PRSS)
Anglicare
122 Elizabeth St, Launceston
6334 6060

North West (Burnie)
Private Rental Support Service (PRSS)
Anglicare
8 Strahan St, South Burnie
64318804

North West (Devonport)
Private Rental Support Service (PRSS)
Anglicare
Cnr. Steele and Rooke Sts, Devonport
6424 8581

South
CA$H (Colony 47)
446 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart
6214 1492