Marlborough Property Investors' Association

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Tenancy Tribunal Issues

A few weeks ago I had a meeting in Central Auckland and parked in a commercially owned Pay-And-Display carpark. The meeting was expected to last half an hour so as you could only buy time in Half Hour lots of $5, I paid for one hour to account for time to get to the appointment.

Unfortunately the person I was meeting was late and I ended up being 11 minutes over my hour. Although I looked, there was nobody attending the carpark to pay for the extra time. When I got back to the car there was a notice on the windscreen. I thought it must be a note on how to pay for the extra time but it turned out to be a $65 parking ticket.

It occurred to me that if they had staff to issue tickets so efficiently, wouldn’t it be more user friendly to have staff attend a pay booth so you could pay for the time that you used?

It also occurred to me that this is a fantastic system for renting car space and wouldn’t it be marvellous if rental property owners could operate in such a way?

A recent survey of Property Investor Association members around New Zealand who had been to the Tenancy Tribunal in the last three months lost an average $1,918 after getting back the bond. This represents a potential economic loss of $45 million a year. 71% of these cases continued to get worse over the time it took to get a hearing which led to 20% of respondents changing their minds on resolving the issue and seeking termination instead. So in addition to the loss suffered by landlords, Tenants are losing their homes as a result of the time it takes to get a hearing.

There is no one easy answer to this clearly poor situation. The NZPIF and Property Associations’ around the country successfully sought changes to the Residential Tenancies Act in 2010 that made it an unlawful Act for tenants to abandon a rental property without advising the landlord. Tenants can now be required to pay up to $1,000 if they leave abandon their rental property.

With rent arrears being the largest reason for applications to the Tenancy Tribunal, this is one step in trying to reduce the number of cases which should help make the system run better.

Another aspect in improving the Tribunal system is for applicants to be more informed when making their application and ensuring they include all the required information needed to prove their claim.

The NZPIF is involved in redeveloping the Tenancy Tribunal Application form to make it easier for applicants to know what they have to do and get their applications and supporting information right first time.

The Tenancy Tribunal now has to hear Unit Title and Boarding House disputes in addition to Tenancy disputes, increasing their workload. We are concerned that while the workload on the Tribunal has increased, resources have actually been reduced putting undue pressure on Government Staff to just keep up.

While we will be raising our concerns over all these points with the relevant Government Officials and politicians, I can’t help thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if Landlords were able to operate like Car Park Owners.

Tags: federation reports