Neighbourhoods around the country will have to put up with antisocial, loud and offensive behaviour from difficult tenants if the Government removes the 90-day notice period for evictions.
The Government is considering this move as part of an extensive review of tenancy laws, including allowing tenants to make modifications to their rentals and having pets without needing permission.
If the 90-day eviction notice is removed, neighbourhoods around the country could have to put up with antisocial, loud and offensive behaviour from a small group of disruptive tenants regardless of how badly the landlord would like to evict them.
It's important to note that the 90-day notice is an option of last resort and only used when the tenant, landlord and neighbourhood relationship has broken down.
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In a survey, we asked our members why and when they had used this 90-day provision. Many had never issued such a notice and of those who had, most had only issued one over the past five years. The main reasons for using the 90-day-notice was antisocial behaviour, disturbing neighbours, aggression and damage. It's obvious that while this provision is rarely used, it is absolutely necessary.
We want to provide good tenants with warm, dry and safe homes, but to do this, we also need to remove a tenant if they are disrupting those living around them, or destroying the property. The NZ Property Investors Federation does not believe tenants causing problems in their neighbourhoods should stay while their innocent neighbours are forced to leave.
Landlords will also be forced to become extremely cautious when offering their home to tenants.
With the existing 90-day notice option, we can give tenants with a few blemishes the benefit of the doubt and provide them with a home. These tenants can turn out to be excellent and go on to have wonderful relationships with their landlords and neighbours.
However, if they continue to have loud parties or other disruptive activities, we need the ability to move them on. The 90-day clause is a safety net to protect landlords against badly behaving tenants. It is not the norm and we don't want it to be.
Those advocating for the removal of the 90-day clause say there are other avenues if a tenant's behaviour gets this out of control.
They're right, it is legally possible to take a tenant to the Tenancy Tribunal to request termination, but this requires a hearing and evidence. This is actually the preferred way to end a tenancy, but in cases of antisocial, disruptive and abusive tenants, neighbours are often too afraid to come forward and give evidence.
The 90 day-notice rule allows for termination without neighbours being put under undue stress, fear and intimidation.
There is existing proof that not using the 90-day notice leads to poor outcomes for neighbourhoods.
The Government has instructed the state housing provider, Housing New Zealand, to implement a "sustaining tenancies" approach to their tenancies. Effectively this means that they won't terminate tenancies even in extreme cases. This has led to a recently reported case in Hastings which left a street living in fear.
Neighbours were facing intimidation tactics, swearing, relentlessly partying, multiple burnouts and ongoing abusive behaviour which took over their once quiet street. These acts of intimidation and threats of violence from a group of unruly tenants was not addressed because of the "sustaining tenancies" directive and not issuing 90-day notices.
A similar situation occurred in Motueka and probably many other parts of New Zealand.
We support the Government's approach to providing better rental properties for tenants and we're proud that 97 per cent of our members ensured our homes were insulated before the deadline last month. We remain committed to working alongside Government to achieve better housing results for all New Zealanders.
It's important to remember that this issue is not about landlords or even tenants. This is about sensible housing policies for all our communities. If landlords cannot effectively remove tenants with bad behaviour, it is neighbours that suffer.
• Andrew King is executive officer of the New Zealand Property Investors Federation