Falsely accused of damage to rental, what recourse do I have?

Neil asks:
(updated on Tuesday, January 22nd 2008)

I received a copy of paper work for a Notice of Hearing from Tenancy services stating I have to turn up to court in relation to damages and costs to a property of $9000 I lived at from January 06 to August 06. My ex wife & I moved to the rented property in Pakuranga and lived there together with her 2 sons. We separated in August 06 I signed the bond and tenancy over to her in August 06. Property inspection done at time before I moved was satisfactory. The Property Manager sent me a letter recently stating all was OK at the time but does not have any records. There wasn't anything major on the report from memory. The owners live in South Island and manage it. My ex wife then stayed on until January 07. She received a glowing report from the owner and received their bond back. After she moved out she received a letter in relating to damages with her name only, she has not sorted it and now my name is included. The costs are silly such as flights. Is this correct?

Our Experts Answer:

The Tenancy Tribunal will need to determine the validity of your former landlord’s claims based on the facts presented by you, your ex-wife and the landlord at the Tribunal hearing. If you are to be held jointly responsible for the damages sought by the landlord, the landlord must prove the damage occurred during the time you were a tenant under the tenancy agreement. If you do not agree with the landlord’s claims, you will need to disprove them by presenting evidence, such as the letter from the property manager. Any records of times and dates of any discussion between you and the landlord may also be helpful. For more information on the Tenancy Tribunal hearing process, contact the Department of Building and Housing at 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62) or visit our website: www.dbh.govt.nz/tenancy.

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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