Compliance With Legislation

Being a landlord is becoming increasing complex with a number of significant changes to legislation and Government policy in recent years. We predict there will be further changes to come. Some of the more important recent changes you need to be aware of are –

The Osaki decision

A recent Court of Appeal decision has changed the way tenant damage to a property is dealt with, and the situation is now a lot more complex. We will ensure any damage caused by a tenant is dealt with as the law allows. For more information on this issue please contact us.

Smoke Alarms

From the 1st of July 2016 all rental properties must be fitted with working smoke alarms. Any new alarms installed must be of an approved Photoelectric type and have a minimum 8 year battery. The old style smoke alarms (9 volt battery type) can continue to be used as long as they are working, however once the unit fails they must be replaced with the new long-life battery units. Smoke alarms must be located within 3 metres of all bedrooms and in at least one living space. Where there is more than one level in the property there must be a smoke alarm on each level for the main living space on that level.

Insulation

From the 1st of July 2016 all tenancy agreements must state what insulation is contained in a rental property.

From the 1st of July 2019 all rental properties must be insulated to the minimum standard as currently laid out in legislation.

Abandonment of Tenancy

From the 1st of July 2016 where a tenant abandons a tenancy (simply leaves without giving notice and cannot be located) the process for a landlord to obtain legal possession of the property has been changed. Provided the process is followed correctly, possession can be regained a lot quicker than before.

Retaliatory notice by landlords

Landlords must exercise care in giving tenants notice when they wish to end a tenancy. Where notice is given e.g. 90 day notice for a tenant to leave is given, a tenant can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for the notice to be cancelled if it is felt the notice has been given because the tenant has been exercising their rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 e.g. complaining to the Landlord about an issue with the property. If the Tenancy Tribunal decides the Landlord has simply retaliated against the tenant’s complaint by giving notice (Retaliatory Notice) then the notice can be cancelled and an order prohibiting the Landlord from giving notice for a prescribed period e.g. 2 years can be given.

From the 1st  of July 2016 the circumstances that amount to retaliatory notice have been widened and so Landlords need to exercise great care in giving any notice to end a tenancy to a tenant.

Powers of Tenancy Services extended

From the 1st of July 2016 Tenancy Services have new powers to take a Landlord to the Tenancy Tribunal if it is considered they are breaching the Residential Tenancies Act. Previously only a tenant or landlord could do so.

Methamphetamine

The issue of methamphetamine contamination of rental properties is of great concern. Whilst the overall numbers of rental properties contaminated with ‘P’ are low, the potential cost of cleaning up a contaminated property are very large indeed.

We take all possible care to prevent a ‘P’ user becoming a tenant. It is sometimes difficult to identify a user as they can come from all walks of life and of course do not announce the fact they use ‘P’. We utilise a number of strategies to mitigate the risk, and having a business owner who was a Police Officer for many years provides a level of drug and people experience to the business that is above the average.

As a further level of protection to owners we undertake testing for methamphetamine contamination. The Tenancy Tribunal has stated that unless a Landlord can show that a property was free from ‘P’ contamination prior to bringing a claim against a tenant then a claim is unlikely to be successful. Testing prior to renting out a property is therefore recommended. We can provide you with further information around this issue.

Standards of cleanliness in rental properties

The standard of cleanliness in a rental property is one of the biggest day to day issues for owners and property managers. On the one hand a tenant has a right to live in the rental property free from harassment and in ‘quiet enjoyment’. On the other hand the Residential Tenancies Act places a requirement on tenants to “keep the property reasonably clean and reasonably tidy”

The problem lies in the definition of the word ‘reasonably’ and people have different interpretations of this. The Tenancy Tribunal has been asked to rule on this many times and applies a set of principles to the issues of cleanliness as follows –

  • The standard of cleanliness of a rental property is different for the start and end of a tenancy. Landlords are expected to present a property in a higher state of cleanliness at the start.
  • When a tenancy ends the standard of cleanliness is not expected to be so high and is what is often known as ‘Tenant Clean’ i.e. a standard of cleanliness that the Tenancy Tribunal would accept.
  • Owners are expected to have to undertake some cleaning of a property themselves at the end of a tenancy. The Tribunal gives the example that an owner of an average 3 bedroom house is expected to undertake approximately 6 hours cleaning before a Tenant could be expected to be liable for any further cleaning.
  • Where a tenant can show that they have made a reasonable effort at cleaning often the Tribunal will not award any further cleaning costs to a Landlord despite a Landlord having undertaking cleaning as well.

Whether we agree with this approach or not is irrelevant as this is how the Tribunal rules the situation and we are bound to adhere to this. We will do everything we can to ensure Tenants leave a property in the cleanest possible state but at the end of the day can only enforce what the Tribunal will allow.

If you want to know more information about the above issues please contact us today to discuss how we can deal with these hassles for you.