Data costs dispute

Question from Elizabeth updated on 16th November 2018:

I am a budget adviser and my client is in a tenancy which provides an internet connection. She was told when she moved in that the internet was unlimited. However, she has been charged over data use for the past three months. She was not alerted by the landlord to the data cap nor the over data use nor given the option of not using her device when the cap was reached.

Normally, there are two tenancies using the internet but, recently, the third tenancy was occupied for a period of time. The second tenancy has three tenants but the landlord is charging the over data use on a 50/50 basis. We are challenging the over data charges as we feel the landlord has a duty of care to the tenants to notify them of the data cap and the potential costs of going over it.

Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

Based on the circumstances you have described the landlord may not be able to charge more for the internet usage as the tenant was told at the start of the tenancy that there was unlimited internet use. If the tenant cannot resolve this matter by discussing it with the landlord they can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for an Order recovering the additional costs paid or additional costs charged, and a direction about the ongoing charges payable.

We are not able to comment on other tenancies without knowing the nature of the agreement they entered. We recommend the tenants obtain copies of any internet bills during this period to include with any application that is made to the Tenancy Tribunal and include information about the period other persons had use of the service.

For more on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, go to www.tenancy.govt.nz or subscribe to our e-newsletter Tenancy Matters here

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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