Disclosing tenant information

Question from Dave updated on 15th June 2016:

Can a landlord contact a tenant's parents / family for outstanding arrears if the parents / family were unaware of the situation  and were not guarantors on the tenancy?

If this has occurred, what happens if it has caused a massive rift between parents and children?

Our expert Allan Galloway responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, tenants are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of the property that they are renting and the landlord must not interfere with the tenant’s reasonable peace, comfort and privacy in their use of the premises. In order to avoid breaching this requirement, landlords would need to ensure that the disclosure of any information specifically relating to the tenancy is either done so with the tenant’s consent, or is covered by a clause in the tenancy agreement where the tenant has agreed to the release of information relating to the tenancy to specified parties.

If a landlord breaches the tenant’s quiet enjoyment (e.g: the landlord discloses the tenant’s personal affairs to a third party without the tenant’s consent), there are steps a tenant can take depending on the nature of the breach and the outcome that is sought. This can include giving the landlord a notice to remedy the breach (if appropriate), making an application to the Tenancy Tribunal seeking exemplary damages if harassment has occurred, or seeking termination of the tenancy. In the first instance, the tenant may wish to highlight their concerns directly with the landlord.

If this does not resolve the matter, the tenant may wish to consider whether an application to the Tenancy Tribunal will help to resolve the situation. Alternatively, affected parties may wish to discuss their concerns with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner - ph. 0800 803 909, email - enquiries@privacy.org.nz, or at www.privacy.org.nz.

For further information regarding landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities, you can visit www.tenancy.govt.nz or subscribe to our tenancy landlord e-newsletter at www.tenancy.govt.nz/subscribe.

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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