Evicting troublesome tenant

Question from Nicolas updated on 4th June 2019:

We have a tenant who moved in to our property on a fixed term lease (ending October 2019) recently. She did not inform us that we would have to register as a WINZ supplier. Since she has moved in she has not paid either bond nor rent and we want to evict her as soon as legally possible. But we are under strong constraints as we are going overseas for five months at the end of May this year. We are desperate for advice!

Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

As you’re leaving New Zealand for more than 21 consecutive days, regardless of whether this issue is resolved, you must appoint an agent before you leave if your property is tenanted. The agent must be someone in New Zealand who can manage the property while you’re away. In this situation I would recommend appointing a professional property manager who can handle any issues.

In considering what actions you (or your agent) can take, I recommend clarifying the status of your tenant’s work and income payments. As you have been asked to register as a Work and Income supplier, I recommend contacting Work and Income for information about their processes. If you register with them as a landlord this may resolve some of the issues you have raised. If timing is an issue, you should also ask about how the agent you appoint can act on your behalf when you are overseas.

For more information go to workandincome.govt.nz, or if your tenant is young, ie – receiving a youth or young parent payment, go to youthservice.govt.nz.

If rent arrears and unpaid bond monies cannot be resolved by Work and Income and you find the tenant is responsible for paying rent directly; a fixed term tenancy can only be ended by mutual agreement between tenant and landlord or the Tenancy Tribunal. A fixed term tenancy can be ended by the Tribunal if the rent is 21 days or more in arrears at the date of your application or if the tenants have breached a 14 day written noticed to remedy. Applying to the Tenancy Tribunal can be done online via the Tenancy Services website.

Go to www.tenancy.govt.nz/disputes/tribunal/ for more information and to make an application. Tenancy Services works with the Ministry of Justice to schedule Tenancy Tribunal hearings.

For future reference, it is worth noting landlords can include a written condition in a tenancy agreement that all rent in advance and bond money is required to be paid before the commencement date of the tenancy and that the tenancy is conditional on that money being received. This would then allow you (or your agent) to decline to give the tenant possession of the premises on the agreed date if the advance rent and bond money has not been received.

For information on selecting a property manager and 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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