Enforcing payment of rent owed

Question from Phillip updated on 21st July 2015:

I have a tenant who has paid no rent since she moved in. Her bond and two weeks rent were paid by WINZ . She has made no attempt to contact me to fully explain what has happened and all her promises of "I'll pay tomorrow" have not happened. I have asked the same questions each week. She is currently six weeks behind and she hasn't stayed in the rental for the last three weeks yet all her belongings are there. I have spoken to her and have handed her a notice informing her she was in breach our agreement which she acknowledged - but she still did not meet the rent payment. I again have tried to contact her via phone and on Facebook but I have heard nothing. She is a tenant in a sleep-out on my property. What can I do to get this tenant to remove her belongings and pay the rent?

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) generally applies to most residential tenancies. However, there are some situations that do not fall under the Act, including where the premises (not being a boarding house) are used principally as the place of residence of the landlord or the owner, or by a member of their family. If the arrangement you have with your tenant requires them to access your house (e.g. to use shared bathroom/kitchen facilities), this may be a situation that is not covered by the Act, unless both parties have agreed in writing to be covered by the Act. For situations that are not covered by the Act, the parties to that arrangement should seek independent legal advice from a solicitor or Community Law Centre to determine what options are available in these circumstances.

For tenancy agreements that are covered by the Act (such as an arrangement where the tenant is renting a self-contained sleep out and does not share the landlord’s dwelling or the parties have contracted into the Act), if the tenant is at least 21 days in arrears (and all rent in advance has been used) or the tenant has failed to remedy the arrears in accordance with a 14 day written notice, a landlord can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order to end the tenancy and to recover any outstanding rent. If a bond, or any part of the bond paid, is held by the Ministry, you could also include in your application a request that the bond be returned to you to off-set the arrears.

To discuss your situation further, or for information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Ministry’s website (www.tenancy.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) between 8.00am-5.30pm Monday to Friday to speak with a member of our Tenancy Advice team.

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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