As landlords in the UK look forward to the announcement by Housing Minister Grant Shapps on landlord/tenant relations today, it seems that their fellow property investors in New Zealand are one step ahead.
It is anticipated that the announcement by Grant Shapps today will enable landlords in the UK to get rid of bad tenants a lot quicker than the 12 months or more it can take at the moment. And although the new plan should see improvement in moving on rogue elements, charities such as Shelter are already making noises that they will closely monitor the changes as they are worried it will increase the number of homeless people.
In New Zealand legislation went through in October which seems to have cleared the air somewhat for both landlords and tenants. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act (RTAA) covers several contentious areas of tenant/landlord agreements.
The main area of concern was the 90 day period after a fixed term tenancy came to an end. In the past a landlord could ask a tenant to leave immediately in this period or indeed a tenant could walk out of the property without notice leaving a landlord with a void property. From now on the 90 day period no longer occurs. A fixed term tenancy automatically becomes a periodic tenancy when the contract expires, giving both landlord and tenant breathing space to sort out their future plans.
The act also covers areas such as health and safety issues, fire regulations and the behaviour of tenants and landlords. In similar vein to the plans Grant Shapps is expected to announce today in the UK, tenants in New Zealand now have new responsibilities. It will become unlawful to harass neighbours or exceed the agreed number of residents in a property. A fine of up to $2000 can be imposed on miscreants and a fine of $1000 can be levied on tenants who refuse to leave their property.
Landlords are also asked to fulfil their part of the bargain and now must maintain their properties to a certain standard and if they don’t can be fined up to $3000. On the bright side, landlords can now dispose of belongings left behind by former tenants if they do not collect it within a certain time frame.
All in all the act has been well received because it lets both tenant and landlord know how they stand with the law, and with this in mind landlords can go out and buy landlord insurance for their properties knowing exactly what they need to get cover for.