Mr nice guy

Brian asks:
(updated on Monday, May 18th 2015)

My tenant is behind in rent because of his partner's health issues and the related costs due to her not being a New Zealand citizen. He appeared to be a nice young man trying to get ahead so twice we agreed on a payment plan and I gave him rent relief. However he reneged on this so I then obtained an order from the Tenancy Tribunal where he agreed to a payment plan. Unfortunately he has only paid the first two weeks of this plan and I have had to enforced the order and a bailiff has undertaken the first step of providing the courts order to evacuate the tenancy. The tenant has now asked for four weeks further if he pays for the four weeks while he finds further work. He says if I don't do this he will use this money for the bond and first week's rent on another place and I "will only get $10 a week" from him. What rights do I have here? Please give me some advice on what actions I can take to recover the rent arrears? Many thanks.

Our Experts Answer:

You seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place. Your tenant promises to pay off his rent arrears if you let him stay for another four weeks, and threatens not to pay the money he already owes if you don’t allow him to extend. He’s showing the wrong moral values. He seems to be trying to avoid eviction, but is willing to manipulate you to get his own way. It’s really up to you. Do you think this person is likely to pay you in full if you give him another four weeks? If not, you’re simply postponing the problem for a month. It’s a bad sign when someone offers to pay a debt in exchange for that same amount of credit. You may prefer to stop the negotiation and evict him. I suggest you look at the Ministry of Justice website www.justice.govt.nz/fines/civil-debt for details of the District Court Collections options available: Attachment Orders allow regular payments from income at source, by order of the District Court. Warrants to Seize Property (formerly a “Distress Warrant”) provide for seizure and sale of goods that the debtor owns outright, and Filing a Financial Statement for Judgment Debtor (similar to an “Order for Examination”) provides for examination of a debtor’s finances to reveal how much they can afford in repayments. Attachment Orders in particular are useful if the debtor has a regular pay income (through employment or benefit), and they can be done “on the paper” without the need for a hearing.

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