Enforcing arrears payment
Question from John updated on 20th May 2020:
My tenants stopped paying rent. I received a ruling from the Tenancy Tribunal and a trespass and eviction was served. But they had shot through anyway leaving the house trashed: all internal doors kicked in, carpet ripped up, etc. It will cost at least $15,000 to make good.
But my insurer won't pay as they say I didn't have a specific landlord clause for wilful damage. I had to track the tenants via Facebook so the court could order a payment plan hearing for the rent arrears. So much for the Tribunal. Now I am told that I need to get a lawyer to take them to the Small Claims Court.
But I will probably never see anything anyway. What is the point? How is this policed? If they do get a judgement against them they are never going to pay because these people just don't give a damn. As I understand it, one of them has an unrelated police warrant out for him. Any suggestions?
Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:
When a case results in a Tenancy Tribunal outcome yet one party is having trouble contacting the other party to enforce the order, the Ministry of Justice might be able to help. The role of the Tribunal is to help resolve any issues between a tenant and a landlord under the Residential Tenancies Act, and that includes issues such as rent arrears and damages to property.
A Tribunal order is legally binding, but the Tribunal is not the body that enforces the order. If you applied for the order, you can try enforce it through the court system under the Ministry of Justice. If the other person (the debtor) has been ordered to pay you but they haven't, the court might be able to help you get money. This does require you to manage the process yourself or seek additional legal advice as has already been suggested.
If you require more information on enforcement actions available to you, we recommend you contact the Ministry of Justice at justice.govt.nz/contact-us. For more information on enforcing orders from the tribunal, go to tenancy.govt.nz/disputes/enforcing-decisions/enforcing-orders-from-the-tribunal. You can also 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.