"If you're a tenant and unsure of your rights and entitlements during the Covid-19 pandemic, the CAB can help," says Bernice Mitchell of the Stratford Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

Bernice says they have received many inquiries from renters in relation to Covid-19 alert, highlighting a range of issues.

"For example, we had tenants who suddenly have no income but still have to pay rent and all of their other expenses. We have also heard about flatting situations where it seemed impossible to remove an unwanted flatmate during the lockdown."

The Government has introduced some measures to help tenants during Covid, says Bernice.

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"Government measures to help renters include a rent increase freeze that is in place until late September, and a ban on tenancy terminations (except where the tenant agrees to it) that is in place until late June."

It is up to the tenant and their landlords to discuss the issue and try to reach an agreement in many cases, says Bernice.

"This is especially the case if the tenant experiences a significant drop in income or loses a flatmate who previously contributed to the rent. If your income has reduced it is worth checking whether you are eligible for an accommodation supplement from Work and Income. We can help you know what your options are for resolving the matter."

There are some areas not covered by tenancy law, says Bernice.

"It's important to know that tenancy law does not cover flatmates, whose names are not on the tenancy agreement, private boarders, or tenancies where one of the tenants is a family member of the landlord. In these situations the rights of the parties involved depend on what's in the flatting or house sharing agreement – and any disputes can be dealt with in the Disputes Tribunal."

The Stratford CAB office will reopen on Tuesday, May 26, she says, but in the meantime the team are still available by phone and email.

"Although you can't come and see us right now, we are available by phone 06 765 5250 and email centraltaranaki@cab.org.nz You can also call our nationwide freephone 0800 367 222 or use online chat. We will reopen for face to face interviews according to level 2 restrictions on Tuesday, May 26.

"We also have great information about tenancy rights on our website, including up to date information about Covid-19 related issues."

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The Stratford CAB office is open between 10am-1pm, Tuesdays to Fridays at 270 Broadway Stratford, under the clock tower. Please note it is not open however until Tuesday, May 26.