Call to help tenants stuck paying double rent

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
The Tenants Protection Association wants the government to step in and cover rent when a tenant is faced with paying for two properties because of lockdown restrictions.

Penny Arthur, the manager of the Tenants Protection Association in Christchurch, said in the last week they had heard from around 30 people who were due to move to a new rental in the next month, and now faced having to pay double rent.

She said the advice from the government was to only move in extreme circumstances, such as family violence, people returning from overseas or when moving from the streets into a home.

Arthur said they would have loved it if the government subsidy had covered the situation where a property is empty and the landlord is getting no rent but the tenant could not afford to pay the second rent.

"It'd be great if there was something to cover that gap so the landlord was not out of pocket but the tenant can still secure the tenancy for when the lockdown is lifted," Arthur said.

"It would ease the financial pressure on landlords, and absolutely ease the minds of tenants knowing they can still move at the end. Most people only move because they have a good reason to move."

She said her organisation only hears from people experiencing problems, so she is hopeful that many landlords were allowing tenants to hold the new tenancies without rent until the tenants could move in.

Arthur said they were also hearing from tenants who were feeling vulnerable because of pressures within flats from the lockdown.

She said concerns raised included tensions coming to ahead when people were sharing a small space and flatmates risking other's health by not adhering to social distancing.

"For people living in flats where usually everyone is out all day, and even in the evenings there might often only two of three people home, to suddenly all be there 24 hours a days in the same space, and that can be a lot of people in a very small space. People will isolate further into their own bedroom, and therefore they are isolating not just within the home, but within one room within the home and that will have an impact on them."

However Arthur said they would advise people to think carefully before they left an established flat for another, as people needed to make sure the new situation would be an improvement.

The Tenants Protection Association is currently not offering face-to- face consultations, but can still be reached by phone (03-379 2297) or its [www.tpa.org.nz website].

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