Dealing with troublesome Sectional Title tenants

One of the thorniest issues in sectional title (ST) schemes is what to do about tenants who regularly flout the conduct rules and make things unpleasant for other residents.

“From the trustees’ point of view,” says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group, “the problem is that they can’t deal with such tenants directly. The tenants are not members of the body corporate and their only contract is the lease agreement with their landlord, that is, the owner of the unit they occupy.

“And this means that neither the trustees nor the managing agent can evict the troublesome tenants. All they can do is warn the landlord that his tenants are breaking the rules and then, if matters do not improve, start imposing fines for each breach.”

What is more, he notes, these fines will be for the account of the landlord, because ST Management Rule 69 clearly provides that landlords are responsible for the conduct of their tenants.

“However, even if the fines are mounting up and the landlord would like to evict the tenants, the legal procedure that has to be gone through to do so can take a long time, and involve him in even more expense. And if the landlord happens to live in the same complex as the disruptive tenants, things can get very awkward.”

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter Everitt says, however, that there is one precaution that landlords can take against such a situation, and that is to make sure that there is a clause in their lease agreement stating that the tenants will be financially responsible for any fines they cause to be imposed by breaking the conduct rules – which must also form part of the lease agreement.

“ Such a clause – similar to those providing for the recovery of outstanding municipal charges for water and electricity supply - may well make tenants think twice about breaking the rules and, at the very least, should ensure that the landlord doesn’t lose out financially when they do.”

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