Out of pocket
Landlord Andrew MacKenzie believes the Tenancy Tribunal works too heavily in favour of tenants.
A landlord has criticised the Tenancy Tribunal after claiming a tenant ‘‘trashed’’ his house.
Andrew MacKenzie said landlords’ concern that the tribunal was expensive and ineffective was leading them to raise rents in order to cover the cost of possible damage.
He won $768.11 from the tribunal to cover what he says was about $5000 worth of damage.
He said he had been left with a $4000 legal bill after a tenant laid claims against him as he was trying to recover money for damage done to his house in Wainuiomata, Wellington.
A final inspection by his property manager showed the house was in good condition, but when MacKenzie returned a week later with a real estate agent, the ‘‘place had been trashed’’, he said.
Doors had been ripped off their hinges, and from cupboards. The dishwasher was kicked in and the shower was damaged.
He was awarded $768.11 of the tenant’s $1240 bond. He had claimed the full bond, plus $1668.55, as well as costs.
MacKenzie decided to sell the house last year, when the tenant said she wanted to break the lease early.
A Tenancy Tribunal decision showed the case was further complicated when the tenant lodged her own claim against MacKenzie, saying he had harassed her, had had tradesmen at the property without giving notice, and that she had overpaid rent to the tune of $2835.
She wanted her entire bond back, and was seeking $7000 in damages.
The tribunal recommended that MacKenzie should get legal help with the case, given the costs the tenant was seeking.
It recommended the award to MacKenzie to cover the cost of the repairs to two doors, which the tribunal decided had been damaged.
Other damage was considered accidental. Both MacKenzie and his tenant had to cover the cost of the proceedings.
MacKenzie said the case showed the tribunal worked in favour of tenants.
Property Investors Federation executive officer Andrew King said the Tenancy Act was consumer protection legislation, but was meant to be balanced.
‘‘I think the tribunal probably do put a higher requirement on landlords to get it right,’’ he said. ‘‘They view them as being the service provider ... they [landlords] should know what’s going on.’’
He agreed that landlords put up rent to cover costs, especially in low-income parts of the country where it was more likely tenants would not pay rent.
‘‘They don’t know which tenants will do it, they just know there’s a higher likelihood of it happening, so rental yields of those areas do tend to be higher.’’
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, which supports the Tenancy Tribunal, said: ‘‘As judicial officers, tenancy adjudicators may speak only through their decisions and cannot publicly comment on cases.
‘‘If a party to a dispute disagrees with a tribunal decision, and the amount in dispute meets the jurisdictional limit of $1000 or more, they have a right to appeal to the District Court. Additionally, if a party feels there has been, or might have been, a miscarriage of justice they can also apply, at no further cost, for a rehearing.
‘‘However, I can advise that in the 2015-16 financial year, there were 19,054 applications to the tribunal, of which 16,954 were from landlords and 2100 were from tenants.’’