Travelling Landlord

Bill asks:
(updated on Tuesday, December 21st 2010)

I travel frequently with my job and am often out of New Zealand for months at a time. I’ve heard there’s a new law that says I need to appoint an agent to manage my rental property while I’m out of the country, even though I have always managed it myself and have good tenants who are definitely long term. Do I really need to do this, and what does the process involve?

Our Experts Answer:

The requirement for landlords to appoint a New Zealand-based agent if they will be out of the country for more than 21 days is part of the amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) which came into force on October 1, and it covers all landlords.

Failing to appoint an agent and follow the procedure is an unlawful act under the RTA making the landlord liable for exemplary damages of up to $1000. This is something you need to do before you leave New Zealand, and any landlords who are currently overseas need to do this without delay. It’s a no-brainer for landlords who have professional property managers taking care of their properties as managers are already in place as agents, so placing the property with a professional manager takes away the hassles, and you’ll get the other benefits that go with that approach if something goes wrong with the property or tenant while you’re away.

Anyone who wants to take the DIY approach needs to find a willing and suitable friend, relative or other person and download the Change of landlord/agent form at the Department of Building and Housing website. You need to notify your tenant of the agent’s name, contact address, and address for service, and if a bond is held in respect of the tenancy, notify the bond centre using the form. Remember, the agent appointed has all the rights and obligations of the landlord as they apply under the amended RTA not everyone will want this responsibility.

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