Abandoned Property – What Property Managers Need to Know

Journal, Property Management,  Property Managers

In this article, we review the procedural requirements under the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld) (RTRA Act) when a property has been abandoned by a tenant.

Property managers will of course be aware that a residential tenancy agreement can only end in a way mentioned in section 277 of the RTRA Act, including if the tenant abandons the premises (section 277(5)(b)).

Terminating an Abandoned Tenancy

If a property manager believes on reasonable grounds that a property has been abandoned by the tenant, the lessor may give a notice (Abandonment Termination Notice) to the tenant terminating the tenancy agreement. Pursuant to section 355(5) of the RTRA Act, ‘reasonable grounds’ include the following:

1. a failure to pay rent;

2. uncollected mail, newspapers and other material at the property;

3. reports from neighbours or other persons that the tenant has abandoned the property;

4. the absence of household goods at the property;

5. the disconnection of services including gas, electricity or telephone services;

6. the failure by the tenant to respond to an entry notice.

In the event that the property manager is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the property has been abandoned, instructions should be sought from the lessor to issue a Form 15 – Abandonment Termination Notice.

Pursuant to section 356 of the RTRA Act, the tenant may apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) if they dispute the Form 15. The tenant has seven days after the Form 15 was given to apply to QCAT seeking an order to set aside the notice, and 28 days after the Form 15 was given to apply to QCAT seeking compensation.

If the Form 15 is issued and within seven days of receipt the tenant does not take any action under section 356 to dispute it, the tenant is deemed to have abandoned the premises.

An alternative option to issuing a Form 15 is to apply to QCAT seeking an order about abandonment pursuant to section 357 of the RTRA Act. If an order is sought by the lessor, QCAT will consider the same grounds outlined above, along with anything else it considers relevant, in order to determine whether the tenant has abandoned the property. If an order is made by QCAT, the tenant is taken to have abandoned the premises on the date stated in the order. Applying to QCAT for an order under section 357 can often avoid future disputes if there is some doubt about whether the property has been abandoned.

Property managers should note that if QCAT makes an order that the property was abandoned by the tenant in accordance with section 357 of the RTRA Act, it may also make orders pursuant to section 360 requiring the tenant to pay the lessor an amount it considers appropriate as compensation for any loss (including loss of rent) or expense incurred as a result of the abandonment.

If the tenancy agreement is terminated by the issuing of a Form 15, the lessor may apply to QCAT under section 359 of the RTRA Act for compensation from the tenant for any losses that may have been incurred as a result of the abandonment, including loss of rent.

Step up your game! Upgrade to a full real estate licence.

SEE ALSO: How to retain your good tenants

Abandoned Goods

If the tenant has left any goods behind at the property (excluding personal documents or money), section 363 of the RTRA Act prescribes how the goods are to be dealt with.

Before disposing of any goods (or even moving any goods), we recommend that a detailed inventory be compiled. The inventory should note every single item left at the property, which may be owned by the tenant, no matter how insignificant. The inventory should be signed and dated, kept on file and be supported by comprehensive photographic evidence. The photographs should also note the date upon which they were taken. In addition, all model and serial numbers of any items left at the property should be recorded in writing along with the general condition of all goods.

Section 363(2) of the RTRA Act provides that the lessor may sell the goods, or dispose of them in another way, if the lessor believes, on reasonable grounds, that the goods:

  1. Have a market value of less than $1,500;[1] or
  2. Storage of the goods would be unhealthy or unsafe, or would cause the market value of the goods to be completely or substantially depreciated; or
  3. The cost of removing, storing and selling the goods would be more than the proceeds of the sale of the goods.

If the goods do not fall within the above categories, they must be safely stored for a period of one month.[2] The former tenant may claim possession of the goods (in writing) prior to the disposal of the goods, in which case the lessor may claim the reasonable cost of removing and storing the goods (section 363(7)). If the former tenant does not claim the goods within one month, the lessor may sell the goods at auction or apply to QCAT for orders to deal with the sale or disposal of the goods (section 363(4)).

Are the goods going to be sold at auction? If yes, the lessor must provide notice of the auction by publishing a notice in a newspaper which is circulated in the general area of the property. The notice must provide a description of the goods, and the date, time and location of the auction. The auction must take place at least seven days after the notice is published.[3]

In an instance where the goods are sold in accordance with the RTRA Act, the lessor may retain out of the sale proceeds the reasonable costs of removing, storing and selling the goods.  Any remaining proceeds must be paid to the Public Trustee within 10 days after the sale (section 363(8)).

Conclusion

In circumstances where a tenant has abandoned a property, it’s more than likely this will cause significant concern and stress for a lessor. As a matter of best practice, it’s important property managers implement proper procedures to handle such situations and minimise any loss incurred by the lessor.

Property managers should also be aware that the maximum penalty for a failure to deal with abandoned goods in the manner prescribed by the RTRA Act is 40 penalty units (currently $5,338). It’s also possible that complaints could be made to the Residential Tenancies Authority if the correct procedures under the RTRA Act are not followed.

References:

[1] See section 26 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Regulation 2009.

[2] See section 28 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Regulation 2009.

[3] See section 29 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Regulation 2009.

Experience counts! Get your full real estate licence with RPL.

Enrol Today

Here’s what others have to say

I contacted REIQ, as I wanted to upgrade my real estate licence to a full licence. I have now completed the necessary upgrade and I just wanted to thank all the staff and trainers who were my guides during this time. Particular mention to Rachael Wilschefski who did everything she could to help me and was a joy to talk to, Trudi Fleet was a fantastic support to me and a big thank you to the assessing team. If anyone is considering using REIQ to get their licence or upgrade, I highly recommend using REIQ. Once again, thank you. Helen Knight
Helen Knight
Helen Knight
00:31 05 Mar 21
Great training course was very informative. I feel I gained lots of knowledge and there is a lot of support from the REIQ team online, via phone and in person and am looking forward to starting my career in the real estate industry!
Laura Stills
Laura Stills
08:14 22 Oct 20
I found the REIQ Real Estate Licence Online Training Course was very good, easy to access, with brilliant course materials to read and assignments that really checked on your understanding of the details of every aspect of real estate practise. I enjoyed the course even though it took a few months due to working full time and found the support of the trainers and assessors very helpful and encouraging. Thanks REIQ Training team for helping me through!
Lindy Lear
Lindy Lear
10:47 18 Oct 20
Gerry MacKenzie
Gerry MacKenzie
06:53 12 Oct 20
Good course. Materials and tools given to finish the course easily. Was no problem to finish. Support is there if needed it.
Jade Dodds
Jade Dodds
09:11 09 Oct 20
I would like to share with you our experience that we have recently had through the REIQ Professional Development Team.We have had an awesome start to 2020 thanks to the great service provided by the REIQ Professional Development Team. Congratulations to Liz who started and finished her Certificate of Registration Course with the REIQ in December 2019. She loved the training, particularly the fact the trainers are experienced and still walk the talk and are active in real estate. Fast turnaround for marking of the assessments with help on hand by way of tutoring if needed meant she could get the Application to Office of Fair Trading for her registration happening quickly. We are thrilled, from start to finish with the course and application to Fair Trading she had her Certificate of Registration within 5 weeks. Really impressed with the training, help and support team REIQ gave Liz and the quick processing time by the Office of Fair Trading.We also regularly use the Property Management Support Service and General Agency Advice Service and believe it offers great value for our membership. The PMSS team provide practical advice by practising property management professionals who can relate to the everyday challenges property managers face.Keep up the good work Team REIQ,
RE/MAX Ignite
RE/MAX Ignite
05:56 21 Jan 20
I cannot recommend REIQ enough. The training, environment & staff were beyond my expectations. A special mention for Rachael who is a trainer at REIQ. Rachael knows her stuff. Her knowledge of the industry and style of delivery helped me get across the line and score my dream job.
Paul Conway
Paul Conway
05:11 15 Jan 20
I wasnt sure that I would get through the Agents and Licence course with everything I had on, made an attempt a year ago with another provider that went totally pear shaped but the REIQ course is structured in a way that made sense. While all of their trainers are experts in their field, they offer onsite student support on Tuesdays with Rachel providing the right advice and reassurance to get you there, even if you havent studied for a while. If you've ever wanted a career in Real Estate this is where you get started!
Lynette Nitson
Lynette Nitson
01:48 13 Jan 20
Great staff that are always helpful.
Kensington Ràpoza
Kensington Ràpoza
11:20 28 Dec 19
Great friendly environment
David Priest
David Priest
22:47 19 Nov 19
Very impressed with the trainers that I have had for the past 3 days. Each individual trainer was very helpful and made sure that everyone in the class understood everything before we progressed through the modules.
Shannon Goldsworthy
Shannon Goldsworthy
04:34 23 Oct 19
Recently completed my Licence course and thoroughly enjoyed the in-class tutorials taught by highly professional trainers with many years of industry experiences. The student support that is available every Tuesday is an extremely helpful resource, again with very experienced trainers to ensure you get the right advice the first time. REIQ has really structured the entire full Licence course end to end thoughtfully, especially when you’re new to this industry. Highly recommended!
Julian Phua
Julian Phua
07:01 02 Oct 19
Recently I completed the Real Estate Licensing course at REIQ and was blown away by the help and support provided by Ms. Connie McKee who is a trainer at REIQ. Connie is very professional and has years of knowledge and work experience in the Real Estate Industry.I am glad I chose REIQ as my pathway into the Real Estate Industry.
Kaizan Irani
Kaizan Irani
00:23 30 May 19
Helpful staff. Useful networking events and training videos.
Eagle Real Estate
Eagle Real Estate
02:27 25 Jul 18
Just done two days interactive training with Melissa Sullivan. Sensational! Such a great presenter and electric delivery of material. Quick paced and hands-on!Very glad to have been in this class!!! Awesome
Miles Griffiths
Miles Griffiths
07:01 26 Jun 18
Jason Bond
Jason Bond
10:29 19 Jun 18
Welcoming and friendly staff, always available to support their members. The Property Management Support Team is particularly helpful. Well worth the subscription fees just to have access to advice from these experienced practitioners.
Laura Valenti
Laura Valenti
21:29 16 Jun 18
Haydn Denovan
Haydn Denovan
02:51 20 Mar 18
Jacqui McKeering
Jacqui McKeering
02:01 08 Mar 18
Proud to be a member of such a prestigious organisation. Thank You for the support 🏡
Jamie Smith
Jamie Smith
07:28 07 Mar 18
Blake Richard
Blake Richard
01:34 05 Mar 18
Tina Nenadic
Tina Nenadic
12:57 02 Mar 18
Michelle Wright
Michelle Wright
04:07 26 Feb 18
Adam Milton
Adam Milton
01:52 22 Nov 17
Katie Cotton
Katie Cotton
10:04 31 Oct 17
Liam Hanlon
Liam Hanlon
12:06 05 Sep 17
Had Melissa Sullivan conducting the sales registration course for the past two days I have to say I think this woman is inspiring she kept the class focused and engaged throughout the two days. I dont normally complete surveys but felt that I wanted to share that this lady has inspired me to give sales ago and I never thought i would say that as i have been a PM and honestly never thought I could see myself as a sales agent... Thanks Mel for such a great two days
Karen Riddell
Karen Riddell
07:04 03 Aug 17

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Subscribe