Otago Property Investors Association Inc

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News & Updates

Recent updates

31-10-2007

RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT - Reforms

These included:

  • Lifting of the Tenancy Tribunal’s monetary jurisdiction to $50,000 from $12,000 and through new sanctions
  • New rights of entry for appraisals by real estate agents and building inspectors
  • Allowing landlords to recover reasonable debt collection costs incurred in enforcing Tenancy Tribunal orders through a private debt collection agency
  • Clarifying responsibility for outgoings such as electricity, rates and water
  • Allowing some tenant breaches eg sub-letting, assigning a tenancy without consent, over-populating the premises or becoming a problem neighbour to become unlawful acts that can result in exemplary damages being awarded, as an alternative to eviction
  • Making a tenant’s liability for damage limited to four times the weekly rent, if the tenant did not cause the damage intentionally or recklessly intentionally or recklessly encourage or permit another person to damage the premises.

It is expected that a Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill will be introduced into Parliament early in November with calls for written submissions to be filed with the Social Services Select Committee by the end of the year.

TENANCY TRIBUNAL ORDERS – Online

The Minister of Courts, Rick Barker, announced 17 October that the long awaited tenancy tribunal on-line database was up and running and available to the public.

Administered by the Ministry of Justice, the database will provide a way for landlords to check on the background of a prospective tenant (and vice versa).

The website is available at: www.tenancytribunal.govt.nz

STATE HOUSING – Condition

During the month there were calls for an inquiry into the condition of state housing.

It was alleged that a significant number of New Zealand homes did not reach the World Health Organisation's recommended minimum temperature of 18C – including many state houses.

The Government responded by saying that it has an ongoing program in renovating houses to make them warmer, on top of the ongoing maintenance programme. The Housing Minister Chris Carter has rejected the need for an inquiry.

At the same time, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA encourages, promotes and supports the uptake of energy efficient initiatives) announced a “EnergyWise Homes” proposal that would introduce a voluntary Home Energy Rating Scheme (HERS).

HERS would indicate the energy performance of a house. Indications, however, are for HERS to become mandatory and for certificates to be required at the time a house is sold or rented.

The irony of HERS would be the immediate placing of additional and unnecessary pressure on the Government’s stock of 66,000 state houses to become compliant.

The HERS proposal has serious implications for private landlords as there is a possibility of HERS being extended to include lighting, water heating efficiency, cooling, green efficiency etc. Clearly, the cost of compliance will be a significant concern, to be reflected in rents, and could add to the unaffordability of houses (for all buyers).

GOVT ENERGY STRATEGY – Compulsory insulation

The Government announced its New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy on 11 October. Amongst the key actions to improve energy efficiency was a proposal for the insulation of rental properties. The Government argues that this area was "a bit of a problem" because landlords did not have a great interest in the power bill's size.

Green Party spokeswoman Jeanette Fitzsimons said a standard would probably be developed to require compulsory insulation in the ceiling and under the floor, and some draught-stopping around the windows. Standards are to be finalised by 2009.

For the Federation and its members the proposal would lead to significant compliance costs, which would ultimately be passed on to tenants in higher rents.

TRUSTEE AMENDMENT BILL – Introduced

The Trustee Amendment Bill, completed its first reading in Parliament on 16 October, proposes modifying the powers, duties and liabilities of trustees and defining the relationship between trustees and advisory trustees.

The proposed reforms are largely mechanical or technical in nature but nonetheless will have some impact on those members who hold their assets in a trust or who act as trustees.

Written submissions are to be considered by the Justice Select Committee and it report is due to Parliament by April 2008.

INQUIRY INTO THE MONETARY POLICY – Continuing

The Finance and Expenditure Select committee met on 10 October to further consider evidence on the inquiry into the future monetary policy framework.

Tags: tenancy tribunal orders - rick barker - ministry of justice - eeca - hers - chris carter - trustee amendment bill

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