How can I recover rent arrears?

Karen Darrall asks:
(updated on Thursday, September 24th 2009)

A landlord confirmed that our prospective tenants were good and tidy with an impeccable rent record, and confirmed their house was up for sale. Within 4 months we had the tenants evicted for bad rent arrears (8wks in all), and about $1000 is required to restore the property. Some investigations revealed they gave a false landlord, when in fact their real previous landlord was a letting agency who evicted them for rent arrears. What action can I take against the "false" landlord? And the tenants for fraudulently gaining the tenancy of our property? I would really appreciate any guidance you can give.

Our Experts Answer:

Landlords and tenants may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have a tenancy agreement set aside if it appears that the agreement was induced by fraud, misrepresentation or mistake. However, the Residential Tenancies Act does not provide any course of action that may be taken after the tenancy has ended.

However, you can still expect the tenant to pay any outstanding rent and to compensate you for any careless or intentional damage caused by them or their invited guests. If you are not able to obtain any money you are owed directly from the tenant, you can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal. The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 applies only to the relationship between a tenant and landlord. It does not cover the relationship between a landlord and a third party who provides a reference for the tenant.

You may wish to seek advice from your local community law centre about whether you have any recourse against the person who provided the false reference. To discuss your situation further, or for advice and information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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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