Sweeping changes to hit landlords.
Updated: Feb 4, 2021
Well now, that's a worrying headline if ever I read one, or is it. As with most head lines, it lacks balance. In this blog I'd like to express my rather grounded and pragmatic point of view both as a landlord and as a property manager on the changes to come into effect 11 February 2021.
No more no cause 90 days eviction notices.
Personally, I have never had to use this clause because when you have a tenant that pays the rent on time (most of the time), looks after the property reasonably well and doesn’t cause trouble, there is no need to move them on. The longer they stay the better. For an experienced PM who really cares about who they install into a clients rental property this isn’t too much of an issue either, because all relevant checks are conducted beforehand. Good PM’s and landlords ask more than just one or two questions of referees and if statements are corroborated without lengthy pauses or evasiveness then you can feel confident of honesty. As a private landlord I am often surprised how little information I get asked for when a property manager calls me for a reference.
No more rental bidding.
Personally, I have no issue with this because any reasonable PM or landlord would set rent on what the market sets, not on what desperate people are willing to pay. Tenants are just regular people trying to make their way in the world and deserve to be treated with fairness and compassion. They are not a cash cow to be milked for all they are worth.
Fixed leases automatically become periodic on expiration.
During my almost 14 years of being a landlord, I have always operated this way. I have always insisted new tenants sign an initial one year term and then it becomes periodic after that. If you’re renting a well maintained, tidy and compliant property your tenants are likely to stay on longer or even much longer. For most people moving house is a real hassle and something they would prefer not doing too often. So it’s best to provide them with good quality accommodation to help ensure longer tenancies.
Allowing tenants to make minor changes to a property.
Also quite reasonable, here in Christchurch we live in an earthquake zone so furniture needs to be fixed to a wall, whether the property is owned or rented by the occupant. The tenant just needs to be aware that at the end of the lease all fixings need to be repaired back to the original condition. The same goes for baby proofing and any other minor changes.
Limiting rent increases to minimum of once per year.
This is also quite reasonable. Some PM’s and landlords market their properties at a reduced price knowing that in 6 months they could start hiking up the price. I think this now puts us all on a level playing field, all the better for everyone.
Assignment of tenancies.
When handled lawfully, the disruption to the tenancy will be minimal and at no cost to the landlord. The tenant is legally liable for costs incurred in the changeover, such as advertising, credit checks and damages. With no interruption to rent as the new tenant moves in the day after the current tenant moves out.
Also quite reasonable. I would feel very frustrated if my only option for internet was dial-up, DIAL-UP!! Nobody wants to live in the past when it comes to internet speed.
Privacy and access to justice.
A party that lawfully initiates proceedings against another in respect to upholding the law and wins has in my view, every right to seek name suppression in relation to that matter. Tenants, landlords and property managers all need need to follow and adhere to the RTA.
If a landlord doesn’t practise good record keeping they should consider getting out of the business, it’s clearly not for them. Every transaction must be recorded, even a private landlord should realise that they run a rental business and should treat it as such.
Tenancies can be terminated if family violence or landlord assault has occurred. This is probably going to be the most problematic clause. The Family Violence clause allowing for just 2 days notice without penalty is pretty tough on landlords. I sympathise with people in this situation but feel it would be much fairer if the government picked up the tab on this one so landlords didn't suffer financial loss. Not to mention the complexities of viewing police incident reports regarding the alleged assault in a timely manner. I feel the government needs to develop a procedure for this as it is such traumatic and emotional experience. Most people are not equipped to negotiate this type of situation so for the government to make this change without any real guidance is in my view very poor.
Regarding the Physical Assault clause, I feel a one week eviction notice after an emergency tribunal herring of no more than 3 days after the assault would be more appropriate.
But when all said and done, landlords and property managers just need to accept the changes and get on with the job of looking after their businesses.
By Wayne Hawke.
Lanwayke Property Management.