The big prob­lem is un­paid rent

The Northland Age - - Local News -

Ev­i­dence ob­tained un­der the Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act shows that Hous­ing Min­is­ter Phil Twyford’s ten­ancy law “tin­ker­ing” misses the main is­sue — un­paid rent, ac­cord­ing to Te­nan­cies War spokesman Mike But­ler.

In­for­ma­tion re­lease by Ten­ancy Ser­vices be­fore Sun­day’s dead­line for sub­mis­sions on ten­ancy law re­forms, and yes­ter­day’s on ex­tra stan­dards, showed that of the 35,581 ap­pli­ca­tions to the Ten­ancy Tri­bunal last fi­nan­cial year, 31,031 were lodged by land­lords or man­agers, 25,329 re­lat­ing to un­paid rent.

Mr But­ler said Mr Twyford’s pro­posed changes would pre­vent own­ers from end­ing te­nan­cies con­trac­tu­ally, ban fixed-term te­nan­cies, give ten­ants the right to mod­ify a prop­erty, al­low ten­ants to keep pets, and en­able gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to en­ter board­ing houses at any time.

Per­sis­tent un­paid rent, 72 per cent of to­tal ap­pli­ca­tions to the Ten­ancy Tri­bunal, was the ele­phant in the room that the Min­is­ter was ei­ther un­aware of or re­fused to ac­knowl­edge.

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

The New Zealand Prop­erty In­vestors’ Fed­er­a­tion had sug­gested stronger law around un­paid rent, which could mean charg­ing in­ter­est on ar­rears, charge ten­ants’ credit cards, or ex­em­plary dam­ages for re­fusal to pay rent.

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, 14 for un­law­ful ac­tiv­ity, one for fail­ure to al­low en­try, and 13 for as­sault.

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

“Un­paid rent, no­tices to quit, un­law­ful ac­tiv­ity, fail­ure to al­low en­try and as­sault are the ac­tual is­sues be­tween own­ers and ten­ants, and Mr Twyford’s re­forms don’t touch on any of these,” he said. “Con­sid­er­ing there are 588,700 rental prop­er­ties in New Zealand, the 35,581 dis­putes rep­re­sented only six per cent of the to­tal te­nan­cies in op­er­a­tion last year. This shows that te­nan­cies on the whole run pretty smoothly.”

An Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest to the Min­is­ter about ad­di­tional stan­dards re­quir­ing land­lords to pro­vide and main­tain heat pumps, in­stall ad­di­tional in­su­la­tion, in­stall ex­trac­tor fans in kitchens and bath­rooms, in­stall un­der-floor poly­thene sheets to stop ris­ing damp, and place draught­proof­ing tape around all win­dows and doors had not been re­sponded to.

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