Rental review chance to improve rights

A long-awaited review of tenancy legislation has been announced by Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford.

Rental properties

A long-awaited review of tenancy legislation has been announced by Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford.

The review includes proposals to prevent landlords ending a tenancy without cause and limit rent increases to once every 12 months.

A ban on rent bidding is also on the table. Rent bidding is where landlords and property managers encourage renters to pay more than the advertised price, with the property let to the highest bidder.

Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson welcomed the review and said changes to tenancy law were long overdue.

However, Consumer NZ was disappointed the review did not include plans to regulate property managers, she said.

“Our research shows tenants who rent through a property management company are more likely to experience problems.”

A Consumer NZ survey of the rental market found tenants who rented through a property manager were significantly more likely to report poor service and delays in getting repairs done.

Tenants with a property manager were also more likely to be worried they’d be evicted or their rent would increase if they complained about problems.

“Voluntary self-regulation of this industry hasn’t worked and tenants are bearing the consequences,” Ms Wilson said. “With no standards property managers have to meet, anyone can set up shop.”

Consumer NZ also wants tenancy legislation to include a blacklist of unfair terms that can’t be included in a rental agreement. It wants an end to terms that allow a landlord or property manager to:

  • Charge fees to end a fixed-term tenancy early when the term of the tenancy hasn’t been subject to negotiation
  • Hold tenants’ liable for the company’s own expenses, such as marketing costs
  • Increase rent under a fixed-term agreement
  • Unilaterally vary the services provided as part of the tenancy
  • Limit liability for the company’s agents.

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