EQC repairs: Uncaring landlord

Question from Katherine updated on 25th February 2014:

Hi there, I have a friend whose rental will need vacating for EQC related repairs. For up to four weeks she'll need temporary accommodation. She has been an excellent tenant for two years and has made the property far more habitable than when she moved in (apparently the previous tenants were gang associates and there was a lot of damage and trouble). The landlord is also her boss and is someone I have dealt with in the past (I found this person's business practices to be dodgy). My friend has been told by landlord's son (who owns the company she works for) that they don't care if she has to move out permanently as they can probably get more rent these days and that they don't give care what happens to her and her belongings. Can you help? What sort of leg does she have to stand on? Regards, Katherine

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

The Ministry has prepared guidance for landlords and tenants who are in the situation you describe above. You can access the information on our website here: http://www.dbh.govt.nz/canterbury-earthquake-landlords-tenants. A tenant in this situation should discuss with the landlord the expected timeframe for the repairs (including determining and specifying a date they can move back in), and what conditions will apply while the tenant has temporarily vacated. Any agreement reached should be clearly recorded in writing. A landlord cannot require a tenant to move out permanently unless they terminate the tenancy agreement through the proper process under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act). If either party to an agreement covered by the Act wishes to terminate, the following will apply:  

If there is a fixed-term tenancy in place, neither party will be able to end the tenancy with notice unless mutually agreed to.

If there is a periodic tenancy in place (a tenancy that is not for a fixed-term), either the landlord or tenant may give notice to terminate the tenancy. Generally landlords will need to give a minimum of 90 days’ notice to terminate the tenancy, but can give 42 days’ notice in certain circumstances.

If there is a service tenancy in place (where the tenancy is provided as part of an employment contract), special notice provisions apply where the employment contract has ended.

Further information about terminating a tenancy can be viewed on our website at: http://www.dbh.govt.nz/tenancy-az-n-q#n If the tenancy has not been ended by notice or by mutual agreement, the tenancy will remain in place. To discuss your friend’s situation further, or for information about landlord and tenant rights and obligations, you can visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262). You may also like to advise your friend that the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment is also involved in temporary accommodation in Canterbury, through the Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service (CETAS), alongside the Ministry of Social Development. CETAS can assist your friend in finding temporary accommodation while her property is being repaired. CETAS can help find a place within the private rental market or at one of the temporary accommodation villages. Your friend can call the CETAS freephone number on 0800 673 227 during business hours or visit the CETAS website: http://www.quakeaccommodation.govt.nz/

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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