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Consents warning to landlords

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The issue of unconsented rental properties has arisen after a Dunedin case in which a landlord was ordered by the tribunal to repay $10,940 in rent paid by his tenant while she lived in the property.

The Dunedin District Court has now overruled that decision, but NZ Property Investors Federation (NZPIF) executive officer Andrew King has indicated the issue still needs clarifying.

He is due to meet with new housing minister Phil Twyford to discuss an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act.

In the meantime, the NZPIF is recommending that all landlords:

  • Check rental properties' consents with the relevant local council. While a property might be consented, but unconsented work could have been performed on it before the landlord bought the property.
  • If unconsented work is discovered, landlords should see whether alterations meet building law requirements. If they do, landlords should apply for a certificate of acceptance.
  • If the property does not meet requirements, a building consultant should be employed to advise if the property can be made to comply and what that would cost.
  • If it is feasible to make the property comply, do the work and get a code compliance certificate.

If the building is not, and can’t be made compliant, there is a risk under the current law, that tenants can make an application to the tenancy tribunal to have rent refunded up to $50,000.

The NZ Herald has reported housing minister Phil Twyford as saying the new government want to update and improve tenancy laws to reflect the fact that half the NZ population now lives in rental property.

Landlords, tenants and other parties would have the opportunity to advocate for this and other law changes during the law reform process he said.



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