Tenancy investigators from a new government team have begun inspecting New Zealand’s rental homes and the team leader says they are working to crack down on poor landlord behaviour across New Zealand.
"We take breaches of residential tenancy law seriously, and are working to crack down on poor landlord behaviour across New Zealand," said Paul Coggan, Manager of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s new Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team.
He said they were disappointed with the high level of non-compliance they found in Dunedin during inspections of six student flats on Castle Street.
"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," said Mr Coggan.
"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."
"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."
Mr Coggan said 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 Tenancy.govt.nz to learn more about their options for resolving the issue," Mr Coggan said.
Meanwhile, Peter Lewis, vice president of the Auckland Property Investors’ Association, told Stuff the team would help address situations where tenants were living in poor housing but were too scared to complain in case they were evicted.
"The law abiding and professional landlords will probably not run foul of this", he said, "if they are complying with all their requirements it won’t mean a lot but the penalties for non-compliance have become more likely to be inflicted."
Mr Lewis said a growing number of people were lifelong renters and expected a higher standard of accommodation. "If you’re a good landlord, it can only be a good thing," he said.
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