Evicting sub-letting tenant

Question from Erina updated on 25th July 2018:

Our tenant was absent for one week and had someone who I've never met - and who was not on our contract - to look after my rental property. The police were then involved with her "visitors" as a result of physical abuse on a witness. What are my rights to evict and how soon can I? There have also been issues with rental payments. 

Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, tenants have an obligation not to interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of any other person residing in the neighbourhood. Any breach of this obligation by a person on the premises with the tenant’s permission will be viewed as being a breach by the tenant.

You may wish to contact your tenant to find out what is going on if you think they have either sublet the premises without your permission and are no longer living there, or that there are more people occupying the premises than the tenancy agreement allows.

A ‘notice to remedy’ (which is a written letter) can be issued to the tenant where there is a breach of the tenancy agreement – such as rent arrears, and the interference with the peace, comfort and quiet enjoyment of others. This letter gives the tenant a set amount of time to fix the breach and sets out the consequences if this is not done. A copy of a template ‘notice to remedy’ letter can be found on the tenancy services website: https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/maintenance-and-inspections/quiet-enjoyment/.

If this does not resolve the matter, you can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the issues resolved, which could include asking the Tribunal to end the tenancy due to rent arrears and/or a breach of the quiet enjoyment of the premises. Before termination of a tenancy may be considered, you would need to have given the tenant a ‘14-day notice to remedy for rent arrears’ letter prior to filing your application, and provide evidence that the tenant has not complied with the notice.

The Act only applies to the relationship between the landlord and their tenants, so there is no obligation for a landlord to resolve this breach unless the tenant is breaching the peace, comfort or privacy of a neighbour who is also a tenant of the same landlord.

A tenancy can only be ended in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act. You can find information on how a tenancy can be ended by a landlord here: https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/ending-a-tenancy/. 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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