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Rent arrears

Jun 2015

As the cost of living soars, more and more Australians are struggling to pay their rent.

Anglicare Australia’s latest report into rental affordability shows Australians on low incomes are paying more than half of their income on rent.

RTA Senior Community Outreach Officer Valentina Dimoska said because of the costs, there is a heightened risk of low-income earners who fall behind in their rent payments.

"Being behind in rent is a serious issue but it’s amazing what a bit of communication can do," Valentina said.

"Often people feel either embarrassed or too scared to talk about it with their agent or owner so they ignore the issue. But ignoring it is the worst thing you can do.

"In 99 percent of cases the agent or owner and the tenant can come to an agreement to resolve the issue.

"Some people agree to a payment plan until the outstanding rent is paid off."

If a tenant does not act quickly the owner or agent has the right to recover the rent.

If a tenant is 7 days overdue in rent payments, the owner or agent can serve a Notice to remedy breach (Form 11).

This form outlines the issue that needs to be fixed and gives the tenant 7 days to pay the outstanding rent (for a house or unit or 5 days for a moveable dwelling).

The tenancy may be ended if the tenant has not paid the outstanding rent in accordance with the Notice to remedy breach, but in most cases an agreement can be reached.

The RTA offers a free dispute resolution service to help people try and find a solution.

Take action:

  • Contact owner/agent immediately
  • Explain your situation
  • Negotiate a solution to pay outstanding rent
  • Get the agreement in writing
  • Can’t reach an agreement? Contact the RTA immediately for free help to solve your renting problem.

Repeated breaches

A repeat breach is when 2 or more notices have been given for the same issue within a 12-month period.

A repeat breach notice can be given by the tenant or the agent/owner (e.g. tenants may be in rent arrears and agents/owners may have entered the property without issuing the correct notice).