How do I recover unpaid rent?

Rodger asks:
(updated on Monday, August 02nd 2010)

I have had a tenant that sign up for a 1 year tenancy. He paid 1 weeks rent in advance $275. He paid 4 weeks rent bond of $1100.00 to the bond centre by cheque which bounced. He was in the property for 7 weeks and left without notice. What do you reccomend I do to recover the $1925.00?

Our Experts Answer:

In the case of a fixed term agreement tenants cannot give notice to terminate the tenancy, however both parties can mutually agree to end the tenancy earlier. If both parties have agreed to end the term early and arrears are owed that the landlord cannot recover from the tenant, the landlord can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order requiring the tenant to pay what is outstanding. If an order is granted and the tenant does not voluntarily comply with the Tenancy Tribunal order, the landlord may choose to enforce the order either via an independent debt collections agency, or via the Collections Unit at the District Court.

Where no such agreement has been reached and the tenant has abandoned the property, the landlord can request as part of a Tenancy Tribunal application that the fixed term tenancy be terminated with possession of the premises returned to the landlord. The landlord can also request for the tenant to pay for rent up until the tenancy has been terminated.

If the Tribunal terminates the tenancy and returns possession to the landlord, the landlord can request a continuation from the Tribunal if further costs may be sought (e.g. cleaning), or if the tenant has left goods which will require a disposal order. If the fixed term agreement has not been ended by mutual agreement but the tenant has handed possession of the premises back to the landlord, the tenant may still be responsible for rent until a new tenant is found.

To discuss your situation further, or for advice and information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.


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