Diana Clement

Your Money and careers writer for the NZ Herald

Double check tenancy clauses

Read contracts carefully, warns Diana Clement
Read contracts carefully, warns Diana Clement

Too few tenants read their tenancy agreements. If they did, they'd find weird clauses added by landlords.

"Landlords can include anything that complies with the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA) in a tenancy agreement," says Joe Schellack, of Crockers Property Management.

If a clause doesn't comply, it will be worthless if taken to the Tenancy Tribunal.

Many landlords use the Department of Building and Housing's residential tenancy agreement form, then add clauses to it. A few of those clauses, posted on the forum PropertyTalk.com, include:

-No rubbish to be stored longer than one week. Rubbish collection is on Thursday.

-If the tenant locks themselves out, then the following maximum charges shall apply.

-No smoking is permitted inside, no cigarette butts to be thrown outside.

-No cats, dogs or other pets permitted in the unit or on the property at any time.

-No hooks, nails, Sellotape or drawing pins on walls (use 3M Command hooks only).

-The tenant may not have pot plants on any carpeted area.

-Maximum number of people residing in the property.

-No caravans to be parked on the property.

-Only household rubbish permitted in the bin provided. No appliances, boxes or furniture.

-No cars permitted with no licence (registration), WoF, accident damage or oil leak.

-The tenant shall pay any callout fee or repair costs, where the fault has been caused by the tenant, or the tradesperson who attends the callout finds no fault.

Landlords can get into hot water with the Tenancy Tribunal over additional clauses. Scotney Williams, of The Tenancy Practice, says common clauses added by landlords that aren't permitted include:

-The tenant shall have carpets cleaned professionally at the end of the tenancy.

-The tenant shall arrange contents insurance.

The RTA requires tenants to leave a property reasonably clean and tidy. Adding a clause requiring professional carpet cleaning is prejudging the final condition of the property, says Williams. Instead, they need to add that if the carpet isn't reasonably clean the landlord will require it to be professionally cleaned.

In the case of contents insurance, landlords can't require tenants to pay for anything other than rent, bond and a letting fee.

Tenants should read through tenancy agreements before signing. Megan Martin of the Department of Building and Housing says: "If there is anything you are unsure of, get advice from your own adviser or the Department of Building and Housing before you sign."

- NZ Herald

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