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New tenancy investigators target Dunedin student flats

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Tenancy investigators from a new government team have begun inspecting New Zealand’s rental homes - and say they were disappointed with what they found in Dunedin last week.

"We take breaches of residential tenancy law seriously, and are working to crack down on poor landlord behaviour across New Zealand," says Paul Coggan, Manager of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s new Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team.

"Our Dunedin visit was just the start of these operations. We will be in cities and towns across New Zealand to raise awareness of the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords, and to ensure landlords are complying fully with the recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.

"The level of non-compliance identified during this operation was concerning, especially in the area of the current insulation statements now required on tenancy agreements.

"Landlords must make a statement about the location, type and condition of the current insulation, if any, on any tenancy agreement made since 1 July 2016, and it’s surprising there are still landlords who have not done it and are therefore failing to maintain legally required records."

A template of a current insulation statement appears on the Residential Tenancy Agreement form at Insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes from 1 July 2019.

Mr Coggan said that it was also disappointing to see maintenance issues that affected the warmth and dryness of homes go unrepaired for long periods of time, despite being reported to the landlord.

The team visited six student flats in the Castle Street area and a number of property managers, and also spoke to advocates and other interested parties.

Mr Coggan says MBIE made the visits to assess how landlords were complying, as well as to gain an understanding of the local market and unique issues faced by landlords and tenants in the area.

"We will not hesitate to take action for breaches of residential tenancy law. Breaches will be subject to compliance action and potentially exemplary damages of up to $4,000 per breach. MBIE encourages anyone in this situation to visit to learn more about their options for resolving the issue," Mr Coggan says.

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