• Tenancy reforms miss the main point – unpaid rent

    The proposed reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act fails to acknowledge unpaid rent, according to Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler.

    Evidence obtained on Friday under the Official Information Act shows that Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s tenancy law tinkering misses the main issue, which is rear arrears.

    The information release by Tenancy Services came just days before the deadline for submissions on tenancy law reforms on October 21, and on extra standards on October 22.

    For the 2017-18 financial year there were 35,581 applications to the Tenancy Tribunal, with 31,031 lodged by rental property owners or managers, and of these, 25,329 applications were over unpaid rent, according to Tenancy Services.

    Mr Twyford’s proposed changes to tenancy law could prevent owners from ending tenancies contractually, could ban fixed-term tenancies, could give tenants the right to modify a property and could allow tenants to keep pets as of right.

    “Persistent unpaid rent which makes up 72% of total applications to the Tenancy Tribunal is the elephant in the room is that the Minister is either unaware of or refuses to acknowledge,” Butler said.

    “Unpaid rent is bad for owners, who must forego income, and bad for tenants, who will have a black mark on their credit history.

    “The New Zealand Property Investor’s Federation has suggested stronger law around unpaid rent which could mean charging interest on unpaid rent, the ability to charge tenants’ credit cards, or exemplary damages for refusal to pay rent.”

    Rent Arrears Solution 

    Tenancy.co.nz consultant Scotney Williams believes that Tenancy Tribunal orders that are strictly concerned with rent arrears should be dealt with more efficiently.

     “Our proposal is to have a system which enables landlords who are suing only for termination by reason of rent arrears of 21 days or more be able to do so by online application,” Williams said.

    “There would be no need for a hearing because the facts of rent arrears case are indisputable.”

    Tenancy Services also revealed that owners and managers had filed 1118 notices to quit, 158 for unlawful activity, 95 for failure to allow entry, and 77 for assault.

    Tenants had filed 270 notices to quit, 14 for unlawful activity, one for failure to allow entry, and 13 for assault.

    Tenants had also filed 668 notices to do with breaches of quiet enjoyment (owners 18) and 338 retaliatory notices (owners 1).

    The discussion document and a link to an online submission survey are available at: www.mbie.govt.nz/rta-reform

    Consultation closes at 5pm, on Sunday 21 October 2018.