What To Do When Your Rental Property Is Abandoned

There can be few situations more disturbing to a property investor than to have outlaid capital to purchase a rental property for the purposes of generating income, then have that investment placed in jeopardy by the actions of a tenant. We have all seen the horror stories on the current affairs programs where properties have suffered wilful damage to the extent that they are uninhabitable without significant monetary outlay to bring the property back to parity with the rest of the rental market. The more fortuitous situation, if there is such a thing in these circumstances, is that the property is abandoned without damage.

In the current Brisbane real estate market, no investor can afford to have a rental property not earning income through the premises being abandoned. Having a good property manager will give you a head start, as frequent contact with the tenant, regular inspections and management of the rental income position usually highlights any problems.

However, despite the best efforts of your property manager, there will still be occasions where a tenant walks away from your property without reason or provocation. For the property owner this can sometimes be a difficult time, as there are certain legal processes that must be followed by the property manager before the premises can be declared abandoned.

Your property manager will first issue an entry notice (form 9) to the tenant before an inspection of the property can take place to determine firstly, if it is abandoned and secondly, the condition in which it has been left. The entry notice can be sent to the tenant or placed in a prominent position at the property, and gives the tenant 24 hours notice of the inspection.

If the property manager then has reasonable grounds to believe that the premises has been abandoned, they can either issue an abandonment termination notice (form 15) or apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to have the place declared abandoned. The tenant then has seven days to dispute the notice by application to QCAT, and if no application is lodged the tenancy agreement ends. The tenant can apply to QCAT for compensation if they were unable to dispute the termination notice, and they have 28 days after the termination notice was issued to make that application.

In cases where the tenant has left goods behind there are several other detailed steps in the process that must be taken. However, through sound property management Brisbane investors can recover quickly from losses incurred when tenants abandon a rental property, as long as they have a property manager who understands the laws around this situation, works within them to reach a conclusion, then finds another tenant.