Landlords have been warned not to give tenants access to their internet connection in rental agreements after a tenant illegally downloaded a copyrighted file.
Under a law introduced in September, internet account holders are warned if illegal downloads are detected. Three such notices within a nine month period could lead to a $15,000 fine.
Scotney Williams, from Tenancy Management Services, advised that landlords should protect themselves after one Dunedin landlord fell foul of what they claimed was the tenant's activity.
"My view is if there is potential for harm, why do it? It's just a waste of time,' said Mr Williams.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
However, those who had already signed agreements with tenants that included internet access had few options to protect themselves, other than changing the agreement by consent with the tenant, or asking for the tenancy to be terminated, he said.
Other landlords said the situation highlighted the new law as an issue for property investors to consider.
Otago Property Investors Association president and landlord Grant Roydhouse said many landlords in Dunedin included internet access as part of their rental agreement, particularly in studio accommodation for students.
"It is a situation that is in its infancy, but it's certainly something to keep an eye on."
The Ministry of Economic Development says where liability falls will depend on the circumstances of each case, and may have to be contested at the tribunal. But internet civil rights group Tech Liberty NZ believes the law clearly says the account holder is liable.
New Zealand Property Investors' Federation national president Andrew King, of Auckland, said he had not been aware of the implications for landlords either.
- OTAGO DAILY TIMES