Dealing with and avoiding tenant disputes

As with any business relationship, at times, challenges arise, and if not dealt with correctly could lead to unnecessary and nasty disputes. This applies to the relationship between tenant and landlord too. We’ve seen cases in the past where disputes could have been resolved, or even completely avoided, if due process was followed.


There are certain steps that need to be implemented by both parties to ensure legislation is adhered to and the safety and satisfaction of landlord and tenant are upheld.

Here are a few guidelines for both tenant and landlord that will assist in mitigating certain risks:

It is imperative not only from a legal perspective, but from a personal satisfaction viewpoint also, that a thorough and detailed inspection of the property is done with both landlord and tenant before the new tenant moves in. This avoids any confusion over damages and snags incurred by the previous tenant. It also assists the landlord to gain greater insight into the exact problems of their property.

During this inspection both tenant and landlord, or agent, should be vocal about concerns, discuss the options and document the plans going forward. If there are damages which the tenant requests to be fixed and the landlord agrees, document detailed timelines so that both parties have accountability.

Once this process has been completed and both parties are satisfied about the outcome then that creates a precedent for future engagement. Which is a fantastic foundation to have.

The next most common dispute situation arises from damages incurred whilst the incumbent tenant is still renting the property. This can often become a who said, who did situation. If there are damages that are not the tenant’s fault, such as wear and tear etc. the tenant should report the damage in writing to the agent or landlord immediately. Photographs of the damage could greatly assist in identifying the extent of the problem. If the landlord agrees to repairing the damage, follow the same structure as before. Detailing plans going forward and identifying timelines. Stick to the structure that worked.

If the damage to the property is because of something the tenant did and they accept responsibility. The vice versa applies. Communicate immediately, request access to the property and detail all the steps to follow. If everything is in writing it gives both parties the opportunity to monitor communication and progress.

There are definitely exceptions to the rule, however, often we find the biggest fault lies in miscommunication and lack of communication. When an issue is handled openly from the start, it is always a good point of departure.

Shaun Luyt
Rental Operations Manager
Harcourts Maynard Burgoyne