Tenancy plan a worry for landlords and neighbours




Landlords should be concerned

By Andrew King

Neighbourhoods will have to put up with antisocial, loud and offensive behaviour from difficult tenants if the Government removes the 90-day notice period for evictions.

The Government is considering this move as part of an extensive review of tenancy laws, including allowing tenants to make modifications to their rentals and having pets without permission.

If the 90-day eviction notice is removed, neighbourhoods could have to put up with antisocial, loud and offensive behaviour from a small group of disruptive tenants regardless of how badly the landlord would like to evict them.

The 90-day notice is a last resort, only used when the tenant, landlord and neighbourhood relationship breaks down.

In a survey, we asked our members why and when they had used this provision. Many never had and of those who had, most had only issued one in the past five years. The main reasons were antisocial behaviour, disturbing neighbours, aggression and damage. It’s obvious that although this provision is rarely used, it is necessary.

We want to provide good tenants with warm, dry and safe homes, but need to remove tenants if they disrupt those living around them, or destroy the property. The NZ Property Investors Federation does not believe tenants causing problems should stay while their innocent neighbours are forced to leave.

Landlords will also be forced to become extremely cautious when letting homes.

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With the 90-day notice option, we can give tenants with a few blemishes the benefit of the doubt and provide them with a home. These tenants can turn out to be excellent. However, if they continue to have loud patties or other disruptive activities, we need the ability to move them on. The 90-day clause is a safety net to protect landlords against badly behaved tenants. It is not the norm.

Those pushing the clause’s removal say there are other avenues if a tenant’s behaviour gets so out of control.

True, it is legally possible to take a tenant to the Tenancy Tribunal to request termination, but this takes a hearing and evidence. This is the preferred way to end a tenancy, but in cases of disruptive, antisocial and abusive tenants, neighbours are often afraid to give evidence.

The 90-day notice rule allows termination without neighbours facing undue stress, fear and intimidation. There is proof that not using the notice leads to poor outcomes for neighbourhoods.

The Government has instructed Housing New Zealand to implement a “sustaining tenancies” approach to tenancies. Effectively this means that they won’t terminate tenancies even in extreme cases. This led to a recently reported case in Hastings that left a street living in fear.

Intimidation, swearing, relentless partying, multiple burnouts and abusive behaviour took over a once quiet street. The intimidation and threats of violence from a group of tenants were not addressed because of the “sustaining tenancies” directive and not issuing 90-day notices.

A similar situation occurred in Motueka and probably many other parts of New Zealand.

We support the Government’s approach to providing better rental properties for tenants and we’re proud that 97 percent of our members ensured homes were insulated before the deadline last month. We remain committed to working alongside Government to achieve better housing for all.

This is not about landlords or even tenants. It is about sensible housing policies for all our communities. If landlords cannot remove unruly tenants, neighbours suffer.

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