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Will I end up in Magistrates Court?

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What happens when a landlord wants to make a claim against a tenant? Let’s say the tenant has left the rental property dirty, repairs must be made and the rent is behind. If a landlord has good insurance cover some of the total expenses could be met by the policy, but there still may be outstanding expenses owed by the tenant due to their actions.

Scenarios like this may end up in the South Australia Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT). This may depend on whether the landlord is claiming for the bond refund only or for the bond refund plus compensation for expenses not covered by the bond and/or insurance.
Once a landlord has been granted an order from SACAT – and received the full bond plus a compensation amount to cover additional expenses borne by the landlord – generally, the SACAT order will advise both parties (landlord and tenant) when and how the tenant must pay the compensation amount.

If the tenant defaults and breaches the payment aspect of the order, the breach may become a civil matter and the landlord may commence the process of taking the tenant to the Magistrates Court to get the money which is owed to them by the tenant.

Prior to going straight to the Magistrates Court it’s highly recommended a landlord advise the tenant of their intention to make a claim against the tenant if the breach is not resolved within a period of time (this is a pertinent step as it may enable the landlord to claim for the costs involved for filing a claim with the Magistrates Court). Once this period of time has elapsed and there has either been no response or an unsatisfactory response from the tenant, the landlord can then file the claim in the Magistrates Court.

In some scenarios, the Court can arrange for a process server or Sheriff to serve the tenant with the appropriate documents (detailing the claim being made against them plus the date and time of the required court attendance).

Once the landlord has obtained confirmation of the papers being served on the tenant, the landlord needs to attend Court at the appropriate day/time. NOTE: The landlord is attending the Magistrates Court so the Court can enforce an order of SACAT – the matter has already been heard and determined. This is purely an enforcement for debt recovery and failure for the tenant to abide by this could see them incur further severe penalties.

If a landlord’s property is being managed by an agent, the landlord may be able to arrange for them to act on the landlord’s behalf.

If you own an investment property and would like peace of mind, contact Lisa Akeroyd from Barossa Rental Specialists on 0414 335 660 to discuss your rental management strategy.

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