Domestic war zones will increase under proposed tenancy law changes
A Motueka street has returned to normality after three years of turmoil caused by the actions of Housing NZ tenants in one rental property.
Relieved residents say that parents are now letting their kids ride their bikes and scooters on the street and other children are playing in the area again. They describe the last three years as a domestic war zone of loud parties into the early hours, abusive language towards children at the address, and verbal abuse to passers-by.
"If a proposal in the Residential Tenancies Act Review to ban 90 day without cause notices is passed into law, this type of situation will become more common, " says Andrew King, Executive Officer of the NZ Property Investors’ Federation (NZPIF).
The Motueka situation was only resolved when a hit and run incident meant that things had escalated to such a degree that the neighbours had no option but to risk their own safety and put their concerns into writing.
Previously, neighbours and other tenants in the Motueka street were too scared to say anything about the dysfunctional tenants causing problems, meaning that Housing NZ had no proof of wrongdoing that they could use as evidence in the Tenancy Tribunal to end the tenancy. Housing NZ needed this proof because they had stopped using 90 day no stated cause notices.
The NZPIF has submitted that the 90 day no stated cause notice should remain in place. The problems caused by Housing NZ policy not to use the notice has shown that it is required.
Private landlords currently have the ability to use 90 day no stated cause notices, but this could be taken away if tenant lobbyists get their way in the RTA review.
Tenant lobbyists claim it is unfair for a person not to know why their tenancy is ending and that landlords use the notice to end the tenancies of well behaving tenants.
King says "it is also unfair on other tenants and neighbours to have to put up with this turmoil in their lives."
Despite the tenant lobbyists’ belief, there is no evidence that the notice is actually causing problems. A NZPIF survey shows that the notices are rarely used and only as a last resort. Just 38% of members had ever issued a 90 day notice and, of those, 70% had only issued one in the last five years.
There is a risk in issuing the notices as tenants can react badly and do considerable damage to the property in the three months before they have to leave. The notices are only given as a last resort when there are no other options to end a tenancy gone bad.
Rather than providing better security for tenants in general, removing the notice will protect badly behaving tenants and penalise their neighbours.