Verbal submissions were made today to the Social Services Select Committee looking into changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.
A section of the Act gives tenants the right to perform up to eight significantly disruptive acts a year, and, as long as there are not more than two of these in any one three month period, it will not be until the end of that year that their landlord can apply to have their tenancy ended with three months’ notice.
However, this new right does not go far enough for the NZ University Student Association. Their National Vice President, Sam Smith, told MPs that these new rights are not strong enough.
“Many students are at a stage of their lives where they are discovering themselves, meeting new people, and experiencing life outside of their family home” said Mr Smith. He said that it is reasonable for students to hold social events.
NZ Property Investors’ Federation Executive Officer, Sharon Cullwick, said she thought it was reasonable for people to have social events as well but “I wouldn’t want to live next door to anyone who has eight significantly disruptive parties a year and I can’t imagine many people would. Most New Zealanders don’t realise that this is what Government is proposing to allow.”
Currently if neighbours of a tenant bring disruptive or antisocial behaviour to the attention of their landlord, the landlord can assess if the best course is to end the tenancy of that tenant with a 90-day no stated cause notice. The landlord can protect the affected neighbours’ identity because they currently do not have to say why they are ending the tenancy. There is always the possibility of retribution if the neighbours’ identity is not protected in this way.
The proposed new law states that neighbours will have to provide proof of three significant antisocial events over a three-month period before the landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for permission to end the tenancy after a further three months.
Other submitters said that this proposed change is to provide security for tenants. These submitters were of the opinion that many good tenants are being thrown out of their homes for no reason. This opinion is debunked, however, by research that shows only 2% of tenants each year are given a 90-day no stated cause notice.
“There is no evidence that this tool of last resort is being misused by landlords” says Cullwick. “In fact, the evidence shows that it is used entirely appropriately to protect neighbours of severely disruptive tenants. The new proposals mean that the affected neighbours may have to endure six months of a very unpleasant environment in their neighbourhood. The NZPIF does not want to see neighbourhoods affected in this way.”
A petition to leave the RTA unchanged has now been signed by 8.558 people and remains open.