Commissioner's Blog: Renters experiencing financial difficulty
As living costs rise, many tenants may find themselves in a difficult financial position and struggle to pay rent.
We urge tenants who miss (or expect to miss) a rental payment to explain their situation to their landlord or real estate agent as soon as possible to hopefully avoid stressful breach notices, potential court action and even eviction.
A landlord might agree to a rent reduction for a period of time, waive a payment or agree to defer payment over a longer timeframe while you get back on your feet.
Your landlord’s willingness to help may depend on their own financial position and whether you’ve been a responsible tenant, however it could be in their interest to negotiate a solution.
In shared tenancies, the landlord might let you assign the agreement to a replacement co-tenant, or allow you to sub-let the property to another tenant to help share the cost.
It is wise to avoid pay-day loans or buy now pay later schemes to pay your rent. They might look like an easy way out, but can make a difficult financial situation worse.
If you have a periodic tenancy, you can provide 21 days’ written notice to terminate the agreement. Remember that it is usually easier to move from one rental into another, rather than try to find a new tenancy once court action or an eviction process has commenced.
Should you fail to pay rent, a landlord can either issue a breach notice requiring you to pay the outstanding amount in 14 days, or a termination notice giving you seven days to vacate. A landlord cannot force you out of a property by changing the locks or tampering with the water and power supply.
If you don’t pay all rent owing by the due date and don’t move out, the landlord must apply to the Magistrates Court for an order to vacate. A tenant can ask the magistrate to delay the termination for 30 days if they’re likely to suffer hardship (such as being unable to find other accommodation).
Commissioner for Consumer Protection