As we know New Zealand has moved to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 as a serious attempt to control the transmission of this pandemic throughout our country. With the country now in lockdown the government changed rules concerning residential landlords and we wish to share this to you.
Landlords barred from increasing residential rents for the next 6 months; Tenancies can’t be terminated for three months without agreement; Tenants given more leeway for late rent payments
Period of validity
These tenancy termination rules will apply for three months from 26 March 2020, and could be extended.
The rent freeze applies for an initial period of six months. If a landlord had already given a rent-increase notice with effect from 26 March 2020, this notice is of no effect. Ie the rent increase won’t be able to happen.
Terminating a tenancy
Tenants will still be able to terminate tenancies as usual.
If a landlord had already given a termination notice, this also is of no effect. Fixed-term tenancies will convert to periodic tenancies upon the expiry of the fixed term, unless parties agree otherwise, or the tenant gives notice.
Landlords could previously terminate tenancies if tenants’ rental payments were 21 days late. Now, they can only make this termination after 60 days. Other grounds for termination are substantial damage to the premises, significant antisocial behaviour, and assault or threatening behaviour towards the landlord.
Housing Minister Megan Woods also noted that having COVID-19 isn’t grounds for a landlord to terminate a tenancy. She said a tenant isn’t required to notify their landlord if they test positive for COVID-19. But she encourages tenants to advise their landlords of this to protect them if they visit the property to do urgent repairs for example.
Woods said “The measures we have proposed try to balance protection of the interests of tenants, landlords, and the wider community during this unprecedented time. It is not acceptable for tenants to abuse the current situation by refusing to pay rent when they have the capacity to do so, causing significant property damage, or significant anti-social behaviour. Tenants are still fully liable for their rent payments and any damage as we ensure that Landlords do not increase the burden on tenants.
A failure to comply with the new law could see people fined up to $6,500 by the Tenancy Tribunal.
There is also support for landlords with mortgages, with retail banks having provided details around a six-month mortgage payment holiday for those whose incomes have been affected by COVID-19.
This is indeed a difficult time for the people, families and businesses of New Zealand but we at Added Valuation believe that through our joint efforts and support we can be triumphant in overcoming this situation.