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Proposed change with potential huge impact

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Imagine living next door to loud, obnoxious and potentially violent neighbours. If they were tenants then you might expect their landlord to do something about it and protect you.

Right now, their landlord could end the tenancy with a 90-day notice, which means you wouldn’t have to put yourself potentially at risk by providing evidence of the tenant’s bad behaviour.

Government, however, is considering changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, which includes requiring landlords to state why they are ending a tenancy and prove it at the Tenancy Tribunal, rather than being able to issue a 90 day notice without reason.

It can already be difficult to manage tenants behaving badly and this proposal will make it even harder, potentially impossible.

The proposal is intended to improve security for tenants, which is a reasonable and sensible aim. However, a survey of 1,325 rental property owners conducted by the NZ Property Investors’ Federation (NZPIF) found that only 3% of tenants’ tenancies are ended each year through a 90-day notice. Nearly half of these notices were issued for antisocial behaviour and disturbing neighbours.

This means the proposal will only protect the 3% of tenants who are behaving badly, upsetting their neighbour’s lives. Although a small percentage of the tenant population, this amounts to around 16,500 tenants around New Zealand causing problems.

"While the vast majority of tenants are decent people who respect others, no one wants to live next to people causing serious anti-social problems." says NZPIF Executive Officer, Andrew King. "In my experience, if the affected neighbours are tenants then they prefer to move themselves rather than risk arguments or threats by standing up for their rights. Moving isn’t so easy for homeowners, however, and why should good people be forced to move because of the poor behaviour of others?"

Housing New Zealand has stopped issuing 90-day notices under the Sustainable Tenancies directive of the Government. This has made it harder for the agency’s on-the-ground property managers to effectively manage a growing number of poorly behaving state tenants.

An example of this occurred in Motueka, where an entire street was terrorised by one Housing NZ household for over two years with loud parties, intimidating behaviour and cars speeding down the road at all hours. Despite many requests to Housing NZ and the Police, nothing was done about the situation.

If the same policy is expanded to include private rental properties, which make up 85% of all rentals in New Zealand, many more people other than Housing NZ neighbours are going to have their lives seriously disrupted.

If New Zealanders wants landlords to continue protecting neighbours from the bad behaviour of their tenants, they need to voice their opinion loudly and quickly.

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