Unsure if bond lodged

Question from Nathan updated on 8th March 2013:

I am sure my landlord is not registered with the Department of Building and Housing and has been taking my rental money illegally for the past nine months. He has no fireproofing between our basement unit and his above floors where he lives and there is only one driveway for one car. He is not going to give me a good reference and unfairly witholding my deposit of $750. I am sure the DBH does not have this bond. He also recently went to Australia for three months and did not get an agent to represent him when he was overseas. Please can you advise me what to do and if I am entitled to my rental payments if I expose him as being illegal?

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) does not require a landlord to register themselves (as a landlord) with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment - Building and Housing Group (the Ministry), formerly known as the Department of Building and Housing. However, landlords are required to forward any bond payment (including any part payment) received from the tenant to the Ministry within 23 working days of receipt of the payment. Details regarding that tenancy (including the landlord’s details) will be lodged accordingly. To determine whether your bond has been lodged with the Ministry, you can contact our bond advice line on 0800 737 666 between 8am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday. Landlords also have an obligation to ensure the premises comply with all the relevant health, safety and building regulations that apply to the premises. To determine whether a property complies with these requirements, parties can contact the council in the area the property is located in. A landlord is also required under the Act to appoint an agent to act on their behalf if they are going to be out of New Zealand for longer than 21 consecutive days. If the tenancy is current and the landlord is in breach of any of their obligations under the Act, the tenant may give the landlord 14 days’ written notice to remedy the particular breach. As the notice must be in writing, you must allow for service time and should keep a copy of the notice. A template for 14-days’ notice and information about service times can be found on the Ministry’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz). If the landlord does not comply with the notice, you may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. If your tenancy has ended, it is recommended that you discuss these issues, including the return of your bond with your landlord to try and reach an agreement. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. To discuss your situation further, or for information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment – Building and Housing Group 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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