Property manager guarantees
Question from Carolyn updated on 14th March 2016:
I rented out my proper via a property manager for an initial term of six months with a view to longer if the tenants were suitable.
However, I was offered a job in the area which meant I ended the tenancy with the appropriate notice.
The tenants via the property manager are asking for me to refund the letting fee because they were only there for six months and to pay for their fibre broadband disconnection fee because they committed to a one year fibre contract to get a free connection.
Am I obligated to pay these?
I don't know what guarantees the property manager made to the tenants past the six month mark.
Our expert Allan Galloway responded:
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord is defined as including ‘an agent of a landlord’. It would be recommended in the first instance that you query the matter with your agent (property manager) to determine if there are any written or verbal terms and conditions to the tenancy agreement that the agent has entered into that may differ from your understanding of the terms of the tenancy.
Depending on whether there are differing terms that have been agreed upon or statements made by your agent it will determine what steps are available to both the landlord and tenants. For example, if the agent had advised the tenants they were suitable and could remain beyond the fixed term expiry, or if the agent had stated the owner would not need to end the tenancy to occupy the premise, then the tenants may be able to seek compensation for any loss caused in reliance on those statements.
However, if the agreement was only for a six month fixed-term and the landlord wanted the tenancy to end at the expiry of that term, then provided that sufficient notice was given to the tenants within the effective period as prescribed under the Act, the landlord may not be liable for such costs. If there is any uncertainty regarding the terms of any agreement, either the landlord or tenant may make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.
For further information regarding landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities, you can visit our website at www.tenancy.govt.nz, or subscribe to the tenancy landlord newsletter at www.tenancy.govt.nz/subscribe.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.