New privacy guidelines welcomed
Confusion over what information landlords can ask for when selecting tenants should be eased by a new set of guidelines from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC). The release of the OPC’s new guidelines follows controversy over the original set of guidelines, which came out back in May. They were intended to help landlords make decisions about what personal information it is reasonable to collect from prospective tenants. But they were greeted with dismay by landlords and property managers who described them as confusing and contradictory in many areas. There was particular concern about the restrictions around running credit checks on tenants and the prohibition on asking someone’s age and/or to see a drivers license number. In response to the outcry, the OPC withdrew the guidelines in order to consult with industry representatives, like the NZPIF and REINZ, and rework them. Now the revised guidelines are out and they have been welcomed by REINZ as being much clearer and simpler for the industry to follow. View the new guidelines sheet here (Source: Office of the Privacy Commissioner)
New RTA Act 2019 now in force
New tenancy legislation came into force on 27th August 2019 which will affect landlords and tenants in a number of ways. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 was created to address issues related to:
- Liability for damage to rental premises caused by a tenant
- Methamphetamine contamination in rental premises
- Rental premises that are unlawful for residential use.
Landlords will need to provide insurance information in any new tenancy agreement from 27 August 2019, including whether the property is insured and if so, what the excess amount is. The statement in the tenancy agreement must also inform the tenant that a copy of their insurance policy is available on request. If they don’t provide this information, or if they don’t tell tenants, in writing, within a reasonable time if this information changes, they may be liable for a financial penalty of up to $500. Insurance companies will not be able to pursue tenants on the landlord’s behalf for the cost of damage unless the damage was intentional or the result of an act or omission that constitutes an imprisonable offence. Download and view the Tenancy Services RTA Amendment Act 2019 brochure here. (Source: Tenancy Services)
Why a Henderson mother won $13k from her landlords
A house with leaking and damaged gutters, rotting window frames, illegal stairs, a sagging and mouldy ceiling, rotting weatherboards, a rotten toilet floor and exposed electrical board have earned a stiff penalty for the landlords who rented it out. A couple who own the dilapidated Henderson rental property were ordered to pay their tenant just over $13,000 after failing to take action on the extremely run-down house where she lives with a 22-month-old baby. Landlords Ross and Sally Craigie must pay tenant Bjana Thompson $13,020.44 for breaching the Residential Tenancies Act by failing to maintain their property to a reasonable standard of repair. Their tenant complained to the Tenancy Tribunal about 22 issues. The tribunal said Ross Craigie said he had only done one inspection of the property in seven years and "appeared to have a hands-off approach". (Source: NZ Herald)
The dog ate my insulation
Landlords who seized and held their tenant's belongings for years because she was behind in the rent have been stung with $6000 in fines. Masterton couple Dr Robert Maunsell and Susan Munro rented a unit on their property to tenant Vickie Martin in 2014, but fell out with her early the next year over unpaid rent. Taking their chance when Martin was out one day, they emptied the unit - and told her she could only collect her property when she paid the rent she owed, a Tenancy Tribunal decision says. Martin accepted she owed rent but disputed the amount the couple were asking for and told them they were not allowed to seize tenant's property. The adjudicator said landlords were not allowed to seize or dispose of a tenant's belongings, or retake possession of a rental, without first applying for permission from the Tenancy Tribunal. (Source: NZ Herald)
New Zealand's national tenancy database
Every Tenant Check through illion Tenancy searches our comprehensive tenancy database for records of tenant checks done by other property managers and landlords, as well as tenant ratings, drug warnings, 14 Day notices, and Tenancy Tribunal orders that have been lodged against the prospective tenant. This information will be displayed under the section illion Tenancy Check Report. Any such information that is found will show the name of the property manager or landlord. Click on their name to submit an enquiry to that property manager or landlord. This feature allows you to make contact with your prospective tenant's past property managers and landlords. This is a great way to learn additional information that your prospective tenant may have refrained from disclosing during their tenancy application. You can lodge your own tenancy information online under the Lodge menu and get rewarded with account credits.