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30-09-2009

Sensible Tribunal decision helps protect communities

The NZ Property Investors’ Federation (NZPIF) is pleased with yesterday’s decision from the Lower Hutt District Court, confirming the previous decision of the Tenancy Tribunal that allowed Housing New Zealand (HNZ) to give a group of tenants 90 day notices.

“This case is all about safeguarding communities” said Federation President Martin Evans. “All landlords need the ability to protect the rights of their tenants and neighbours from the harmful actions of other tenants. Tenants need to be aware that there will be ramifications if their actions, or the people with whom they associate, cause harm to their neighbours and communities.”

Housing NZ served 90 day notices to a group of their tenants after neighbours in their state housing block complained about intimidation, threats and burglary.

NZPIF President, Martin Evans, said that this is a perfect example of how a 90 day notice should be used to protect the right of tenants and neighbours to live in a peaceful environment. “Many times neighbours are too scared to speak up and so it is difficult to prove that antisocial or even illegal actions are being undertaken by errant neighbouring tenants.”

The topic of landlords’ ability to give 90 day notices to tenants was raised last month at the social services select committee hearing into changes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). Some groups have claimed that landlords should have ‘just cause’ to be able to give tenants notice to vacate their rental properties.

Currently under the RTA, landlords do not have to provide any reason for ending tenancies by issuing 90 day notices, just as tenants do not have to give any reason when giving 21 day notices to end their tenancies.

The Federation advised the select committee that if ‘just cause’ had to be proven then it would be extremely difficult to remove problem tenants. Landlords would have to prove that these tenants were either breaking their tenancy agreements or breaking the law. “Sometimes it is impossible to achieve this” said Evans “and this means that landlords would be powerless to evict problem tenants. The end result would be that responsible tenants would be forced to leave their homes and communities. Clearly this would be an unjust situation”.

The District Court and Tenancy Tribunal decisions are clear signals that the 90 day notice is a fair and essential tool for rental property owners. This enables them to protect their properties as well as the rights of other tenants and neighbours.

The NZPIF is also pleased that the ability for landlords to issue 90 day notices has not been affected in proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.

 “We hope that the matter ends here and that legal aid funds are not used in any further attempts to avoid the ramifications of antisocial behaviour.” said Evans. “A 90 day notice is not given lightly. Tenants who receive 90 day notices in circumstances such as these should treat them as a wake up call that they need to change their ways, or face disruptive living conditions.”

Tags: tenancy tribunal

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