Problem seen in tenancy law change

Dunedin property owner and manager Kathryn Seque says removing the 90-day clause would hurt everyone. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Dunedin property owner and manager Kathryn Seque says removing the 90-day clause would hurt everyone. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Property owners say changes to the Residential Tenancies Act could do more harm than good for both tenants and landlords.

Current rules allow landlords to end a tenancy with 90 days' notice to the tenant, without having to specify a reason.

Under the Government's proposed changes, that option would be removed and landlords would have to give the Tenancy Tribunal the specifics for ending a tenancy.

The New Zealand Property Investors' Federation (NZPIF), which represents about 6000 property owners, believes the proposals could shut the door on getting rid of obnoxious tenants, to the detriment of the neighbourhood.

''We agree with the proposal's aims of protecting tenants, but neighbours do expect landlords to do something about loud or potentially violent neighbours, which is where the 90-day notice comes in,'' says NZPIF executive officer Andrew King.

Mr King said while there was a perception that tenants were being kicked out of their rental properties for ''no reason'', in reality the 90-day notice option was generally used as a last resort by landlords.

A recent NZPIF survey of 1325 of its property owners found that only 3% of tenancies were ended each year through a 90-day notice.

Of those notices that did go out, nearly half were for antisocial behaviour, including disturbing neighbours.

Other reasons included sale of the property or undertaking significant repairs or renovations.

Mr King said while it was ''a small percentage'' of the tenant population, it amounted to about 16,500 tenants around New Zealand causing problems.

''If the affected neighbours are themselves tenants, then they prefer to move themselves rather than risk arguments or threats by standing up for their rights.

''Moving isn't so easy for homeowners, however, and we don't think people should be forced to move because of the bad behaviour of others,'' he said.

The NZPIF said HNZ had already stopped issuing 90-day notices under the Sustainable Tenancies directive of the Government.

''This has made it harder for the agency's on-the-ground property managers to effectively manage a growing number of poorly behaving state tenants.''

However, Housing NZ spokesman Glenn Conway said the agency had not stopped issuing 90-day notices yet.

Mr King warned that if the same policy were expanded to include private rental properties, which make up 85% of all rentals across the country, ''many more people other than Housing NZ neighbours are going to have their lives disrupted''.

Otago Property Investors' Association representative Kathryn Seque, who manages more than 80 properties in and around Dunedin, said the implication of the rule change was that landlords and managers would simply ''not take chances'' with tenants who might not have all their paperwork sorted.

She said in one situation, an ''anti-social'' tenant in a Mornington flat was given notice based on behaviour that had motivated a petition from a large number of neighbours.

''These neighbours were also intimidated and would certainly not have appeared at the tribunal to support their complaints, making it very difficult for the landlord to prove,'' she said.

Ms Seque said managers often made decisions on possible tenants who were ''marginal'' in terms of having references or finances, but ''we might give them a chance''.

''For the most part, they turn out great - but if the rules change, we just can't risk it,'' she said. However, she pointed out that this applied less to students - who were generally on shorter, fixed terms - than those people who might be coming out of social housing.


Well said about using percentages. 3% don’t sound much, but when that means 16,500 tenants – then % meaningless. Meaningful is that half of those 90 day notices, over 8,000 were for Anti Social Behaviour.

When people have to move out because of bad neighbours noise & intimidation – then that is a blight on civilisation.
But there is a fact here. Clearly those who are bad tenants have (to be polite) a lesser educational ability. When a person is not eloquent they will often get frustrated at being unable to handle their affairs and turn to anger. At the beginning of WW1, many became alcoholics, to avoid being sent to war. It worked for many. That is still the same. Turn to the bottle (& drugs) and therefore avoid work and citizenship.

There are 2 things here. One is that we should not have to endure a bad neighbour.
So what do you do with the 8,000 plus who have to be housed somewhere. Who have no jobs, no hope, on drugs, only know intimidation. House them in ghettos??
What about sending them to a camp to teach them to be good citizens?
A final question. Did bad tenancy start about the same time as CMT got abolished (1972) ???

Property owners retain the better part of a power imbalance in housing.
There are no rent controls.

It should NOT be the people that are socially agreeable, that are forced to move out of bad situations.
This ridiculous policy was introduced into our schools and you only need to speak to any teacher to find out what resulted.
It is misguided thinking to consider this is actually protecting the vulnerable.
All it does, is remove from them the opportunity to learn what is socially acceptable and teach others that bad behaviour is rewarded.

"landlords would have to give the Tenancy Tribunal the specifics for ending a tenancy"

It is important to note that Landlords are still able to move tenants on for valid reasons. This change in legislation then, protects the over 8,250 tenants who are moved on for no reason at all. It does this while still providing a clear avenue to continue moving on the "nearly" 8,250 tenants who are moved on "for anti-social behaviour". This change sounds ideal then and the argument that neighbouring tenants would be adversely affected is clearly rubbish.

Being a landlord is so much more than being an investor, and running a property management company SHOULD be more than just clipping the ticket. If you have bad tenants to deal with, get your ducks in line and present to the Tribunal your valid case. Surely it is preferable that the power in these situations rests with the Tribunal rather than with unprofessional cowboys who currently wield power unaccountably over their tenants?

Does this policy cover property managers?, if not it should, there is some rogues out there.