Unexpected departure!

Question from Carwyn updated on 26th February 2013:

Our tenants signed a three year fixed term contract but after 10 months they stopped paying rent. They told us they were moving out and gave 21-days notice and left the property. It is all currently before the tribunal. They have told the tribunal that they never received a copy of the signed tenancy agreement and that they never knew it was for a fixed term before signing it (despite them originally wanting to sign up for five years). We definitely posted a copy at the beginning of the tenancy and then emailed one when they requested it before they moved out. It has really come down to our word against their word. Where do we stand with this? Is there anything we can do to help our situation?

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

Where a dispute arises between a landlord and tenant that cannot be resolved directly between the parties, either party can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved (as you mentioned has been done). It is recommended that parties to a Tenancy Tribunal application ensure that all relevant documentation and information relating to the claims sought is provided (the applicant should include this when filing the initial application form and the other party should ensure they take any relevant documentation with them to the hearing), as the Tenancy Tribunal Adjudicator will make a decision based on all of the information and evidence brought before the Tribunal. This may include information such as dates and times of conversations that took place (including when and how the tenancy agreement was signed and sent to the tenant(s)), and copies of any other correspondence that may be relevant to the case (e.g. the signed tenancy agreement detailing the term of the tenancy agreed to by both parties). To discuss your situation further, or for further information regarding the Tenancy Tribunal process, you can visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Building and Housing Group’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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.

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