Vacating a property can be a daunting time for both Tenants and Landlords. Tenants and Landlords often hear of horror stories of vacates going badly and one party potentially being out of pocket.
At the end of a Tenancy Agreement, the tenant must return the property per their Entry Condition Report minus fair wear and tear. This is why Agencies stress the importance of returning their signed Entry Condition Report (ECR) upon commencement of their tenancy, as Agencies will use the initial Entry Report when completing the Exit Inspection. It is also a legal requirement for the ECR to be completed and signed by both parties otherwise it is considered ‘void’.
The Vacate Process
Once a tenant has indicated they will be vacating the property, an Agency will request a tenant to Complete the Residential Tenancy Authority (RTA) prescribed Form 13 – Notice of Intention to Leave, giving the Lessor a minimum 14 clear days’ notice of their intent to vacate the property. A tenancy may also be ended by receiving a Notice to Leave from the Agency or QCAT order. Please visit the RTA website if you require further information on ending a tenancy.
The Agency will forward a copy of the notice to the tenant as confirmation of receiving their Notice of Intention along with a vacate pack to assist in the process of vacating the property once the notice has been received. The owner/landlord will also be notified so they can provide their leasing instructions to the property manager.
During an Exit Inspection, Agencies will look to ensure the property has been left in a clean, tidy and undamaged condition. They will use the entry condition report to reconcile the presentation and condition of the property at an exit inspection.
The vacate checklist will generally include:
- Recommended contractors for cleaning (bond, carpets, furniture), pest control and other items to complete the vacate.
- A list of cleaning items Agents look for if you prefer to clean yourself.
- RTA guidelines for completing a Vacate (also available online through the RTA website).
- Invitation to attend the Exit Inspection with the agent to finalise the bond sooner rather than later.
The Agency has 3 business days to conduct and complete an exit inspection once a tenant has handed back keys.
After the Exit Inspection
Once the exit inspection has been completed, An Agency will forward on a Form 14a – Exit Condition report with any cleaning or repairs items outstanding. This is generally be accompanied by photos and a request to have the items finalised within a reasonable time frame. The tenant must respond with a course of action within the time frame given to avoid the agency having the items carried out on the tenant’s behalf and deducted from the bond.
After the exit inspection has been finalised and all outstanding rent/invoices have been paid, an Agency will lodge the bond refund electronically with the RTA. The RTA will contact the tenant to confirm the bond amount and bank details, which the tenants will be required to confirm themselves directly with the RTA. Once confirmation has been received, a refund normally has a 3-business day to reach the tenant’s nominated account.
What if there is a Dispute?
If in the event the Vacate ends in a dispute the Lessor/Tenant and an agreement cannot be met between the parties, the disputing party will be required to complete a Dispute Resolution and lodge with the RTA.
The matter will then be escalated to a mediator with the RTA. During mediation, an agenda is set where both parties have their opportunity to discuss their reasoning for the claim. The mediator can’t decide for either party but they can guide possible outcome sand also assist in keeping the conversation open. If no agreement is met during the scheduled mediation, it will be up to the disputing party to apply with QCAT to have the matter heard in front of a magistrate. It is encouraged for the respondent party to complete a counter application, with their supporting documents to the courthouse.
During a QCAT hearing, the matter will be heard by a magistrate and in most cases, a decision will be awarded.
While it may seem in some circumstances that Agents are working against you, just know that all Property Managers hope for a seamless vacate that is finalised in minimal time. If you are in any doubt doing the Vacate process, our best advice would be to keep an open line of communication with the property manager. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and also research the topic thoroughly using qualified sources.