Rangiora tenant wins payout at Tenancy Tribunal, then landlord jacks up rent

Luke Dyer with his sons. Photo: Supplied
Luke Dyer with his sons. Photo: Supplied
A Canterbury tenant has accused his landlord of jacking up his rent by $60 a week as retaliation for winning a $1000 payout at the Tenancy Tribunal.

Luke Dyer said the increase comes just four months after his tribunal win in July.

The increase is also less than 12 months after he signed a fixed-term tenancy and set rental price for his Rangiora house.

He said the case highlighted why tenants often felt intimidated or like it wasn't worth the trouble to take their landlords to the Tenancy Tribunal.

The landlord didn't want to comment, telling the Herald the way he ran his rentals is a private matter and that thousands of landlords are putting up their rents.

He asked why his case merited a media story.

But Dyer said the rent increase, coming 11 weeks before his fixed-term tenancy ended would add $660 to his rental bill and allow the landlord to recoup about two-thirds of the $1000 compensation the tribunal had ordered be paid to him.

"There is a way to go about doing things and this doesn't feel right," he said.

Dyer said he has filed another Tenancy Tribunal application to appeal the rent increase.

Property manager Harcourts Four Season Realty owner, James Twiss, said because a Tenancy Tribunal application had been made, he will not be commenting before the hearing is held.

Tenancy Services - a rental advice website run by the Government - said no limit is written into law as to how much landlords can increase the rent by.

However, it also states tenants can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the increase reduced if they feel they are being charged too much.

"The tenant will need to have evidence that their rent is a lot higher than rent for similar houses in the same area," the website said.

A recent law change also limits landlords to only being able to increase the rent once within a 12-month period.

However, exceptions include when a property has been substantially improved, such as a garage has been built for storage or off-street parking, or when services have been substantially improved, such as a pool being added.

Dyer argued this hasn't happened at his rental.

He was awarded $1000 compensation at the Tenancy Tribunal for delays at having improvements done on the house and for having his "quiet enjoyment" of the home disturbed.

He said the home was a new-build that had only recently been finished when his tenancy started.

His lease promised that the home's landscaping would be done by the time he moved in, and it took 60 weeks for him to be given the remote control for the garage, Dyer said.

Other problems included a manhole cover missing for about six months, which allowed heat to escape, and one bedroom door not fully closing, he said.

Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator J. Greene found "the owner took far too long to complete the matters that were aggravating the tenants".

"Being without garage door remotes is inconvenient to say the least, as is having uncompleted landscaping and niggling repair issues especially when assured that the premises would be provided in a completed state," Greene said.

However, Greene also rejected an appeal during the last hearing in which Dyer asked to have his rent reviewed against the market rent of other properties in the area.

The adjudicator said Dyer hadn't provided enough evidence to ascertain what the market rent of the area was.

Dyer said the last tribunal decision showed his rental had not had any significant changes to warrant the rent rise.

That was because everything the landlord had done since that decision was a job that was supposed to have been finished before Dyer moved in or was a safety issue.

"Nothing has changed apart from us taking them to the tribunal and getting compensation," Dyer said.

He said his case showed the kinds of troubles tenants can face after taking a landlord to the tribunal.

"When we are just having a baby and going through IVF, the last thing most people want to do is take it to the Tenancy Tribunal," he said.



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