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HELP! Tenant's pussy in breach of lease - what to do?

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  • HELP! Tenant's pussy in breach of lease - what to do?

    Hi Everyone

    Have a bit of a problem. I have a tenant that has brought her cat to live in a fully furnished house that I let out - she tries to hide this from me, but now I have strong reason to suspect. The lease agreement clearly states that there are to be no pets.

    Her lease ends at the end of the month and upon visiting to show a prospective tenant I did notice a strong smell of cat urine. Furniture also has cat hairs on it etc. I haven't said anything to her at this point

    She always insists that she be present for these visits when I show prospe ctive tenants the house and I am wondering what I should do at this point. I think she wants to know when to hide her cat when I pop up.

    I think the cat is messing up the house, but I do not want to make her feel threatened or she might damage the furniture etc. What should I do? I think it will be harder to rent out, as quite a few people are allergic to cats. The smell is also off putting, and the carpet is probably stained with cat pee.

    Any guidance would be very much appreciated


  • #2
    You need to question her on this asap. It's your retirement scheme, and she's in breach of her contract. How much bond has she paid? Can this cover damage to furniture?

    I don't think a tenant would intentionally damage the landlord's furniture if this is questioned. Also she will be wanting a reference on her departure right?

    I think you need to discuss this soon especially if you feel it will affect future tenant's decisions to rent your place or not.

    Other's thoughts?


    • #3
      Thanks Chief Wiggum

      I feel I really need to know my rights before I talk to her. I have a great fear that her bond will not cover the cost of cleaning etc. I am also disappointed that she had been hiding this from me and being dishonest too.


      • #4
        With a fixed term tenancy you can not do anything about it.
        For periodic ones, and you suspect the problem just give a 90 day notice to terminate the tenancy without a reason.
        As for the smell and cleaning. This is very tricky.
        The tenant is required to clean the house reasonably. Demand the carpets are cleaned. I often find the smell gets into the drapes also so these need to be dry cleaned. Give the ceilings and painted walls a clean with 30 seconds. (watch those drips though or will bleach your carpet). 30 seconds has heaps of chlorine in it and this really does kill smells very well.
        Sometimes when tenants have pets that they are not supposed to have I get real mean and warn them that there have been reports of rodents in the house and that you plan on laying rat poison that might be eaten by a cat or dog. This gets them real fired up.
        I have never found the tribunal very sympathetic towards pet clean ups.
        So often when I have done final inspections the cunning tenants have all the windows and doors open. I have from time to time demanded to go back the next day after it has been locked up overnight to see if the odour builds up. It is however very hard to prove things like smells in court so it is far better to do a deal with the tenant.


        • #5
          My friend had that same problem with his IP a few years back. He found himself a bumper sticker that read: ' I like cats they taste like chicken'

          He use to reverse his car up the driveway of the IP so as to be sure the bumper sticker was visible to the tennant.

          Sure enough the tennant gave notice and left peacefully
          This message is printed on 100% recycled electrons.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Martyparty
            Her lease ends at the end of the month...
            Great! Let her know that you will NOT be renewing the Fixed term tenancy. i.e. At the end of the month she is out on her ear so start looking for a new tenant now.

            With regard to your access rights (for prospective tenants and future inspections) I suggest you call tenancy services for advice and/or read the RTA. You can download a PDF copy of the RTA from >>here<< .

            Your tenant is obviously giving you the "run around" because she knows you don't know your rights (and obviously takes you for a bit of a "softie"). Perhaps you need a few verbal slaps from Glenn to toughen you up a bit. Failing this, perhaps you should consider getting a manager to enforce your rights on your behalf (at a cost of course).
            (Cue Glenn)



            • #7
              When the end of a tenancy is notified by either the tenant or myself I give the tenant this form (filled in)
              Note the issue of access. I have got compensation awarded by the tribunal a few times against tenants who have not granted me access.
              So go for it. sharpen up those teeth and forget all about feeling nice.

              To ____________________________________



              This letter confirms on (date) ______________________ (by phone or letter) you gave notice to terminate your tenancy on (date) _________________________
              The Residential Tenancies Act (Section 51.2) specifies a requirement to give 21 days notice to
              terminate a tenancy. With the notice you have given you are liable for the rent until (date)_____________
              Our records indicate that as of today your payments are paid up until (date)_______________
              leaving a total of $___________ rent to be paid plus watercharges as per attached.
              NB if you wish to vacate before the 21 days expire you should advise me. This may save you money because if I am able to relet the property before the 21 days have expired then you do not need to pay for the whole 21 day period.

              Access for the purpose of reletting.
              The RTA 48.(3) specifies that the landlord may enter the premises at any reasonable time for the purpose of showing prospective tenants subject to such reasonable conditions that the existing tenant may impose in advance. RTA 4 (b) Failure by the tenant without reasonable excuse, to allow the landlord to enter upon the premises is declared an unlawful act. 48.(7) In this section "premises" does not include land or facilities.
              Normally most tenants specify access in the afternoon only after an initial curtesy call in order to either prepare you for my visit or, if an answer phone is active, to let you know I have been through the property. It is respectfully sugggested that you remove "things" from sight that perhaps you would prefer others not to see !
              It is confirmed that it is understood that your "prior consent conditions of entry" are __________________________________________________ _____________________________

              Please note during the period that I am marketing and attempting to relet the property a number of people may "drive by" the property. You may be assured that I always advise prospective tenants when a property is still tenanted and never tell people to look at the property by themselves. On no account are you ever expected to allow anyone on the property and never ever allow anyone through the premises unless you know them.
              Thank you for being my tenant and giving me your custom. If you would like a written reference or opportunity to use my name as a referee for future use I am always happy to oblige. I trust the future treats you well. I am always happy to consider past tenants for properties no matter what the circumstances of their departure.

              THE DEPARTURE

              You have indicated that you wish to vacate the property on the above specified date. Normally (unless prior arrangements have been made) this means that you will have the house ready fully vacated and cleaned ready for inspection at 11 am on the specified day of departure. I aim to have the new tenants moving in at 12 noon the same day. Failure to meet this deadline will result in cleaning being done for you at your cost and additional rent may also be due. All rubbish and belongings must be removed from the site by 11 am on the day of departure. The RTA specifies that all rubbish and foodstuffs should be immediately disposed of by the landlord and abandoned goods will be stored off site at your cost. Storage costs are $20 per week or part there of plus labour and cartage costs.

              Things to be done

              1. Clean stove paying attention to drip trays and oven.
              2. Have carpets professionally cleaned. NB the Supermarket Rug Doctor is too wet.
              3. Clean windows and window sills inside and out.
              4. Tidy gardens and mow lawns
              5. Wash and wipe kitchen, laundry, toilet and bathroom walls and ceilings paying particular attention to soap residue and mildew.
              6. Dust skirting boards
              7. Curtains should be clean. Nets should be washed in luke warm water.
              8. All cobwebs inside and out should be removed.
              9. All cupboards to be washed thoroughly inside.
              10. Kitchen draws must be washed thoroughly inside.
              11. All light fittings to be cleaned.
              12. All bulbs must be in working order.
              13. All floors(where appropriate) to be washed.
              14. All fireplaces and log fires to be cleaned out.
              15 Remove oil stains from the drive and garage.
              16 Garage should be swept clean, and free of rubbish and furniture.
              17. Return all keys to landlord by leaving them on the stove. Ring me to confirm when I can pick them up.
              18. Arrange for the power to be read (two days notice required)
              19. Arrange for mail to be redirrected.
              20. If on a benefit advise WINZ of your new address.

              If you prefer I can arrange for my cleaner to carry out these duties for you. Her cost is $10 per hour.
              Failure to complete your part of the bargain and to clean a property reasonably may result in delays with bond refunds.


              • #8
                I notice you don't mention water rates in there Glenn?
                You can find me at: Energise Web Design


                • #9
                  oh yes the water rates.
                  Perhaps I had better start up a new subject on water,
                  It could go on for eternity.


                  • #10
                    2. Have carpets professionally cleaned. NB the Supermarket Rug Doctor is too wet.
                    Can you really ask for professional cleaning? I learned quite a few years ago at a seminar that you can ask the tenants to clean the house before they leave, but cannot demand commerical cleaning, which I interpret as "professional" cleaning.


                    • #11
                      Ha good question.

                      One can ask and demand what ever you like.
                      The problem comes when you end up in tribunal.

                      The whole point of a list like this is that the good tenants follow it faithfully where as in the past they might have only done half a job.
                      Being a standard letter they do not take offence to it.

                      The average tenants will do a halfhearted effort and this is far better than the total lack of effort before.

                      I have produced this form at the tribunal a few times and the adjudicator has made complementary comments about it.
                      Apart from the issue of cleaning it is really important (I have found to my cost in the past) to sort out the issue of access and put this in writing to the tenant.
                      I once had a rather unpleasant case.
                      The tenant said ring before coming.
                      I rang and went through. She had locked her cat into a bedroom and gone away for the weekend. So I let the cat out. The cat was obviously hungry and ripped the head off her pet cage bird. I guess it could not get the rest through the bars. I was unable to defend myself because she claimed she said ring and get permission before coming rather than ring to advise I was coming. This led me to produce this form and surprise surprise I have never had a cat do that again.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Glenn
                        So I let the cat out. The cat was obviously hungry and ripped the head off her pet cage bird. I guess it could not get the rest through the bars.

                        Please, Please, Please can I edit your book!



                        • #13

                          Hi Everyone,

                          I had a confrontation with the tenant and she left. She now admits that there was a cat, but claims that there was no damage. She wants me to take photographs to prove that she caused damage, but there is no identifiable spots where the cat has pissed - it seems to be all over the place. The smell goes right through the building. She has offered to buy air fresheners if I release her bond. I have showed people through and they don't want to take up the place with the smell.

                          I've shown cleaner after cleaner through and they say there is no guarantee that the smell can be removed. They say that the smell will get much worse, particularly with people that do not live with cats, it is extremely noticeable.

                          Tenancy Services are holding her bond. Tenancy services also said that because she breached her lease, she is liable for all costs, but the tenant told me that when she rang tenancy services, they told her the opposite. She also said that her lawyer said that there was no damage and that she is not responsible. I have now found out that she has a number of rental properties of her own via a property manager, and (from one of her tenants) there are no pets allowed in that apartment.

                          Now I am struggling to make ends meet (I have put the rental property and the the house I live in on the market) and this could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

                          I do not want to replace the carpet or furniture (no $$$). So now I am trying to get costs etc together for compensation, she is shilly shallying and laughing all the way to the bank, I am probably going to go bankrupt if I don't win lotto this week or find tenants with no sense of smell. What a great Xmas this is going to be.


                          • #14
                            Have you tried leaving all the windows open? If the house is empty, and so there is nothing inside to steal anyway, I would consider leaving the windows at the back of the house open to allow air to circulate through the property. Cant guarantee that would work, but it is worth a shot.

                            Best of luck.


                            • #15
                              Re claims against the bond.
                              You can only claim what it actually costs you to repair the place. Not the reduction in value nor the reduction in rent nor the time it takes to find a new tenant.
                              The problem is there may possibly have been more than one cat and it has sprayed. This means it will not just be in the carpet but up the walls also.
                              I am often faced with this dilema.
                              Try older people as tenants. They have a significantly reduced ability to smell.
                              Let lots of air through the house.
                              I have used an electronic smell machine that squirts a fine jet of perfume every few hours.
                              They cost about $70 and the cartridges are about $10.
                              I have been succesful in getting costs for this machine.
                              In one place where the owner had to actually shovel the cat dropping up after he bought it and smell is not the word for it. I tell you it made us all feel ill after working in there.
                              I managed to let it successfully to people with dogs.
                              Dog tenants have had their sense of smell destroyed.
                              I really do not know how anyone in their right mind would want to live there.

                              So as for your case I am sure it is not as bad as the above.
                              I suggest you get the carpets steam cleaned again if you have not already done it, wipe the walls and ceilings down with "move it".
                              Pay special attention to all windows and window sills. Cats always sit on window sills and leave the smell there.
                              Get all the curtains drycleaned and the nets washed.
                              Set up a smell machine for a week.
                              these items are claimable against the tenant. If you spend more than the bond go to the tribunal and "do" your best.

                              Why not let lots of air through and arrive an hour before showing leaving all the doors and windows open to shift all the bad smell away.
                              Once new people move in they bring their own smells with them and will probably not notice it as much unless they leave the place locked up like a tomb on a hot day.
                              It is a strange thing but our sense of smell changes to match the surounding smell. In other words their sense of smell will accomodate the new horrible smell and they will not even notice it.
                              Their friends if they have any will however notice it.