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Equality between tenants and landlords – RTA reforms

November 7th 2018

The public consultation on the RTA (Residential Tenancies Act) reforms was closed on October 21, 2018. While the discussion is ongoing the Government is still to decide what proposals to turn into law depending on the feedback and insights the public has provided.

One of the items in discussion is below:

“Increasing the amount of notice a landlord must give tenants to terminate a tenancy from 42 days to 90 days”

Like many others in the property management industry we are concerned at the increased risk this would bring for many landlords.

Auckland property investor Peter Lewis spent 11 months battling to remove a problem tenant with the combined efforts of Tenancy Tribunal, court, policemen, bailiff and himself. Changes to the notice clause would just exacerbate an already time-consuming and difficult process - by the time that a 14-day notice is served and waited out, months can go by, with the landlord losing money and the house getting more trashed by the day. The situation would probably be more mind-boggling once this proposal has been approved.

The review process has also included an end to no-cause termination, limitation on rent increase to once a year, alternation and modifications, pets and boarding houses, but missed the issue of rent arrears, which is a major existing problem and made up 72% of the Tenancy Tribunal hearings for the 2017-2018 financial year. Lewis suggested stronger laws around rent arrears, which includes:

  • - Charging interest on unpaid rent
  • - Charging tenants’ credit cards
  • - Exemplary damages for refusal to pay rent owning

Although the purpose of the reform is to make life better for renters, there still needs to make sure that equality between tenants and landlords is well maintained, providing tenants with security and stability of tenure while protecting the rights of landlords.

Reference: THE PRESS, "'Mind-boggling' eviction fight", Saturday, November 3, 2018