Question from Jeri updated on 14th September 2020:
My friend and I moved to New Zealand on a working holiday visa. We rented two rooms for $230 per week per room in Paihia, Northland. We moved in on November 24 with a six month contract. We paid a $460 bond each. We were asked to give at least two weeks notice when we decided to move.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic we decided to fly back to the UK. Our flight was booked on March 24 and we were only able to give five days notice. Our landlord said that it was fine and that she would keep the bond until she found two new tenants.
However, our flight got cancelled and our landlord told us that we could only have one room back at $260 per week as she had rented out the other room. We managed to book flights back to the UK on May 21 and gave notice of our departure on April 23, so nearly a months notice.
But now that we have moved back to the UK our landlord is refusing to pay all of our bond back. She has given us just half of it with her excuse being that she had to drop the rent. What can we do?
Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:
When a tenant pays a bond to the landlord, this must be lodged with Tenancy Services within 23 working days of receiving it. At the end of the tenancy, both the landlord and tenant should do a final inspection together. If the inspection shows everything is in order, both parties should ensure the agreed bond refund amount is filled in on the bond refund form, signed and sent back to Tenancy Services.
It is unclear if you and your landlord had a written agreement. This agreement can be by way of text messages or emails on how the bond would be paid out when the tenancy ended.
If an agreement over the bond is not possible, it would be in your best interest to call the bond helpline. You can notify them that you have not been able to reach an agreement with the landlord over the release of the bond and that it is not to be released without your agreement, in the event that the landlord makes a one party claim for the bond on a bond refund form.
You can then make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal if you are unable to resolve this issue with your landlord. If you are overseas you will need to contact the Tribunal once your application is filed to organise a suitable way to attend the hearing, such as by phone.
To contact Tenancy Services, see here: www.tenancy.govt.nz/about-tenancy-services/contact-us/. You can find more information on ending a tenancy here: https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/ending-a-tenancy/.
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