Joint tenancy problems

Dan asks:
(updated on Wednesday, July 17th 2013)

We have carried on a fixed-term tenancy from the previous landlord as the tenants would like to stay. We agreed to put two new tenant names on the new agreement . However, the one-year fixed term just started and we're having problems with one of the new flatmates, not only is he not paying the rent but also we never received his bond. The other tenants are good and even paid the arrears rent for the bad tenant however they are not going to continue to do it. They have tried to talk to him but haven't seen him. They are not going to pay the rent until they sort  with him. We rented this house to them as whole, not room by room. We just want to find out where we stand. Can we ask them to pay the full rent amount?

Our Experts Answer:

Where there is more than one party listed on a tenancy agreement the concept of ‘joint and several liability’ applies. This means that parties are responsible individually and collectively for meeting the obligations under the agreement and includes paying the bond as agreed and paying the rent as and when it is due and payable. Where tenants are in breach of their obligations under the agreement (e.g. have not paid the full bond, or are in arrears), the landlord may give the tenants 14 days’ written notice to remedy the breach (e.g. get the arrears and the bond up to date). If the tenants do not comply with the notice, the landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. As a notice to remedy a breach must be in writing, service times must be allowed for, and a copy of the notice retained. A template for 14 days’ written notice and information about service times can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz). The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 only applies to the relationship between a landlord and tenant(s). Any disputes between tenants/flatmates fall outside the jurisdiction of this legislation and the affected parties may wish to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau (0800 367 222) or their nearest Community Law Centre (www.communitylaw.org.nz) for further advice. To discuss your situation further, or for more information about making an application to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website (as noted above), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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