Tenant "refusing" to pay rent

David asks:
(updated on Tuesday, October 22nd 2013)

We have a tenant refusing to pay rent, he says he has no wages. We let him and his family move in and pay the bond over a period of time (which he has not done). He is listed on Shark Patrol and has a long list of bad debt (we have just found this out). He runs a company from the house in someone else's name. How can we get him out of our property?

Our Experts Answer:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) landlords can give notice to tenants to terminate a periodic tenancy (one that is not for a fixed length of time). Fixed term tenancies cannot be ended with notice but can be ended early by coming to a mutual agreement with the tenants (or by the Tenancy Tribunal in certain circumstances). A periodic tenancy agreement can be terminated by the landlord giving a minimum of 90 days written notice to the tenants. Notices to terminate a tenancy must contain certain information and service time must be allowed for. To find out more about the requirements for notices of termination and service times, please visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – Building and Housing Group’s website listed below. Where a tenant has breached the tenancy agreement (for example if the bond has not been paid as per a written agreement, or the tenant is not using the premises principally for residential purposes) or a provision of the Act, if the breach is capable of remedy, landlords can serve tenants with 14 days’ written notice requiring the tenant to remedy the breach. If the tenant does not comply with the notice the landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to terminate the tenancy. As the notice must be in writing, service times must be allowed for (as outlined above) and a copy of the notice retained. A template for 14-days notice and information about service times can be found on the Ministry’s website: http://www.dbh.govt.nz/pub-sorting-out-problems. If the tenant is at least 21 days in arrears (and all rent in advance has been used), you can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order to end the tenancy and to recover any outstanding rent. If a bond, or any part of the bond paid, is held by the Ministry, you could also include in your application a request that the bond be returned to you to off-set the arrears. To discuss your situation further, or for information about making an application to the Tenancy Tribunal go to: www.dbh.govt.nz, or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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