A common problem that I have been hearing for most of this year is how long it takes to get a Tenancy Tribunal hearing. I know from recent personal experience how frustrating it is to have a tenant living in your property and refusing to pay rent. You feel powerless as you wait for the hearing date to finally arrive.
The NZPIF has raised this issue with the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) in order to find out what is going on and to get an improvement to the system. Current delays are costing the industry millions of dollars and driving frustrated rental property owners out of the market.
In the past year, DBH has received and processed 48, 139 Tenancy Tribunal Applications. In September the Department finished a three month pilot of service delivery improvements, with key goals being better targeting of services, helping clients access the services they require. Ominously another key goal was to reduce costs. Unfortunately the DBH has been doubly hit by budget cuts as well as reduced income from lower interest rates on bond money held.
Some of the changes include:
Introduction of a nationwide contact number, 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62), so tenancy requests and queries can be allocated to the right place more easily.
Applications will now be analysed when received and allocated to either mediation or the Tribunal directly, depending on what they believe is the best option to result in a fast resolution.
Applications will also be checked that they are filled out correctly. Previously if there was an error, Department staff would contact the applicant to explain what was required and work out what was needed to ensure the application was correct.
As part of the cost cutting strategies this will no longer happen. If applications are incorrect they will simply be referred back to the applicant for them to correct.
This moves the responsibility for accuracy back towards the applicant and can have serious implications for your access to the Tribunal. It is now more critical than ever that when making an application to the Tribunal that you ensure everything is filled out correctly and all supporting documentation is included.
To help people make sure their application is correct, the Department have introduced an information sheet to take you through the process. This is available at their website at www.dbh.govt.nz.
The NZ Property Investors’ Federation is working with the DBH to establish courses for landlords on how to make applications and how to get the fastest access to justice as possible. Details of these courses will be made available to PIA members when they are due to be held in their areas.
The NZPIF is also planning to research members who have been to the Tenancy Tribunal over the past year to find out how it went and if there were any problems. This information will be used to get a better view of the system and obtain real information that we can then feed back to the DBH and Government.
If you have been to the Tenancy Tribunal, please take a little time to answer this short survey when you receive it.