RTA changes swing favour towards landlords

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Tenants’ advocates are worried the proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) will swing the law in favour of landlords, if three key provisions go through.

By The Landlord

Kevin Reilly, Manawatu Tenants Union co-ordinator, believes National is giving “more power to the landlords” if:
  • Damages are not limited to the amount of bond paid by tenants
  • Letting fees fail to be removed
  • Funding of tenants’ advocates is slashed.
Helen Gatonyi of the Tenants Protection Association believes now is an “ironic” time for the government to be lessening tenants’ ability to have their voice heard, “when all predictions show that the rental market is going to be bigger than ever before in the very foreseeable future.”

In relation to damages, both Reilly and Gatonyi believe very few tenants intentionally damage their rental properties.

“What happens is that in the course of normal living they sometimes have an accident. In these cases the proposed amendment to limit the liability of a tenant to the equivalent of four weeks’ bond recognised this,” says Gatonyi.

The two tenant groups also favour the advocacy provisions in the original changes proposed by Labour.

Gatonyi says advocates provide a real answer in helping to address the imbalance of power between landlords and tenants, and in particular between professional property managers and tenants.

“When things go wrong, they really go wrong. A good advocate can help things get on track very quickly, working both with the tenant and the landlord,” she says.

Gatonyi and Reilly also believe advocates would save taxpayer money by keeping cases out of the Tenancy Tribunal.

Reilly argues that tenants fund the tribunal and bond office through payment of bonds and that some of that money should be used to fund advocates.

“Currently there is $5.5 million to $6 million in unclaimed bonds. That could be used to pay tenants’ advocates.”

He is also firmly against letting fees being charged to tenants and believes landlords should pay them.

Comments from our readers

On 8 July 2010 at 12:50 am baiba said:
Landowners (don't like the word "landlord") should definately pay letting fees, after all, they are the ones who are getting their mortgages paid off with the tenants rent. The good tenants are constantly being penalised for the tenants who cause trouble. Not every tenant is a trouble causing, property damaging, partying lout. Some of us are professional people with young families who are struggling to keep our heads above water, and are extrememly respectful of other people and their property. Do LLs honestly think that all tenants are the scum of the earth? I have been a LL and always treated my tenants with respect, and gave them their peace and privacy. Its a pity that not all LLs do this.
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