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VIC Property Law - Co-tenant Not Paying Her Rent - What to Do?

Discussion in 'Property Law Forum' started by syaoran99, 25 November 2015.

  1. syaoran99

    syaoran99 Member

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    Prelude to issue
    Hi, guys, this is a bit of a lengthy read but I thought a proper explanation would help understand the situation better.

    I need some legal advice regarding my predicament where my housemate is on the lease with me as a co-tenant. We are required to pay 600/week in rent and she has gone on a holiday since 20th October - this coming February. Prior to her holiday, we had a dispute regarding her leaving her access keys behind because we both wanted to rent out the third room of the apartment in order to reduce our rent and we do not have a 3rd access key from the agent because she was charging him higher for his room at 220/week and did not want him knowing from the landlord our actual charges per week so he's not on the tenancy.

    That took a nasty turn however, when she used her abusive & psychologically emotionally challenged boyfriend (he committed domestic violence on her prior and has a restraining order) to intimidate me to share the access key with the 3rd housemate. I objected and made an attempt to move out, but the property agent would not allow me until I found a replacement which my co-tenant has the rights to object to she said.

    A few days after, she came up to me requesting me to leave as she would be fine if I left with my name on the lease and she just sublets my room at a higher price without landlord's permission and I don't have to pay (she makes a profit as they pay to her). I deliberated out of my personal safety at stake and eventually when she came by again to say can you move out within one week because she has someone inspecting my room, I did move everything out to my friend's place an hour's train ride away. However, when I asked her if the tenant is going to replace me and when would she require my keys, my co-tenant gave a ton of excuses.

    Finally, she said, "I'm having my exams. My parents told me to not bother with the issue till after the exams." This is while I had to bunk all my stuff at my friend's place and all the distress of being "forced" to move out during my own assignment due within that week which has adversely affected my grades.

    Current Dilemma
    She's gone overseas right after her exams without prior notice, and resolving the issue. I tried contacting her through conventional methods, but she is unreachable. Come November, rent is due and being the only two people on the lease, I've paid my half of the rent, however, she tells me she's only going to pay 230/week as I'm "subletting" my room to someone else with the final room empty being not her problem. This is after I realized she chased me out of the apartment with no intention of finding anyone to replace me and asking me to pay half the share for not having any stuff there nor living there. Another friend of mine has since taken residence at my place and I've recently sent in an application to sublet my room to him.

    It became an issue when the agent asked the remaining 70/week from her and she says I have the money (which I don't). After that I ended up paying it as I did not want the contract to breach and be blacklisted. Currently, she's not paying a fair share of her rent as the room she is in is the ensuite with a floor area the size of both the remaining rooms, plus her car being parked on the car lift obstructing access to the second car space (she's not inducted and with that should not be using the space). On top of that, I'm no longer living at the premises but have since allowed a friend to live there since I'm ending up paying rent anyways, while the final room remains unrented.

    Question

    Should I change the locks to the apartment and "oust" my co-tenant as a consumer affairs guy told me to treat this as a couple's dispute. I've given her 2 weeks to repay me her remaining half of her share and told her that if she refuses to do so, I would have to look for someone else to rent her room while I take residence in the final room. After that I gave her another 2 weeks to collect her stuff or send someone to before I change the locks if she refuses, or if she does not come for it by then, she could still collect by giving me 48 hours notice of her intention and I would arrange for it up till my lease ends on the 13th of March 2016. She has not responded and it has been a week. Today she disconnected the electricity up till 02 February 2016 (she reconnects) as I found just out today that the account is in her name. Making the apartment uninhabitable.

    What should I be doing under Property Law? Can I legally find someone else to sub-rent with the consent of the landlord and change the locks? By that I'm willing to pay the full amount of the rent while I'm still keeping her stuff here until she collects it EVEN her car that's obstructing access to the second car park. I just do not want to have my name blacklisted as I intend to continue my stay in Australia while she's not bothered by it because she's returning after studies Mid next year. I can not afford to keep paying rent there while not staying there.
     
  2. syaoran99

    syaoran99 Member

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    Hi there.

    In regards to my previous question, my landlord has told me he is not going to allow me a change of locks nor is he going to allow me to sublet the premises due to the belongings of my co-tenant being in the property and that she is not around.

    However, the agent representing the landlord has told me(verbally) that all I need to do is to continue paying my half of the rent and she will chase the other co-tenant for the other half. If the co-tenant does not pay her half after 14 days, then they will serve us a notice to vacate and it will not blacklist my name nor affect my credit rating.

    How sure can I be of this and how much can I trust what they told me? Also, should my co-tenant refuse to fly back to vacate her stuff, can the landlord go to the tribunal to get an eviction order and, in that case, would I still be dragged into it as my name is also on the lease and inevitably I would also be blacklisted?
     

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