Flatting Tips from the SOULS Tenancy Program

The No BS Simple Guide to Flatting – Written by Mario Thorne & Adam Van Heezik.

 

Flatting. It can be fun. Or it can be shit… Soo shit. Chances are, not everyone is going to have it good, so here’s some quick advice on some issues and questions that often crop up during the free SOULS Tenancy advice sessions.

1) The tenancy agreement must be in writing, and can either proscribe a periodic or fixed-term tenancy

No doubt most people have already signed this. In any case, it is important to understand what type of agreement you have signed. Either, it’s a periodic tenancy, where the tenancy continues until either the tenants or landlord give notice they wish to discontinue the tenancy; or (more likely), it’s a fixed-term tenancy, where there is a set end date.

A fixed-term tenancy turns into a periodic tenancy at the end of the agreement unless the landlord or tenant gives notice they wish to end the tenancy to the other 21-90 days before the set end date.

2) Upon signing a bond lodgement form, the bond can be paid either to the landlord or directly to Tenancy Services.

Bond must not be more than 4 weeks worth of rent. If the bond is paid to the landlord, they must give the tenant a receipt for the bond and pay it to Tenancy Services within 23 working days.

3) At the end of the tenancy, if the landlord and tenants are in agreement that everything is good, the bond can be fully refunded upon completing a bond refund form.

If the landlord isn’t happy about the state of the place (e.g. careless damage done), or there is unpaid rent due, then the parties may agree to split the bond to cover costs of repair etc.

4) Your responsibilities include:

  • Paying rent on time
  • Keeping the premises reasonably clean and tidy
  • Letting the landlord know as soon as possible if damage is discovered or repairs are needed
  • Paying power, gas, telephone and internet charges
  • Not intentionally or carelessly damaging the place
    • This includes damage done by visitors allowed on the property

5) The Landlords responsibilities include:

  • Providing the place in a reasonably clean state
  • Keeping the premises in a reasonable state of repair
  • Compliance with building, health and safety requirements
  • Compensating the tenant for repairs that the tenant has had done when the repairs were serious and urgent or likely to cause injury to persons or property, the required repairs were not the tenant’s fault, and the tenant made a reasonable attempt to contact the landlord to do them
  • Providing and maintaining locks necessary to make the premises secure
  • Not changing the locks without the tenant’s permission
  • Giving the tenant written notice if he or she puts the property up for sale
  • Providing an agent if they are out of New Zealand for more than 21 consecutive days.

6) The Landlord must give 48-hours’ notice before inspection of the premises.

If repairs or maintenance are required, they only need give 24-hours’ notice. They can also enter if you give permission or there is an emergency.

7) Tenants are jointly and severally liable.

If for whatever reason there are problems with the premises that the tenants are responsible for, the landlord can choose to make all the tenants responsible for remedying it, or just one tenant.

8) Issues between the landlord and tenants can be sorted out either; by agreement, or through mediation, or through the Tenancy Tribunal.

Mediation is provided by Tenancy Services, and the mediator helps parties discuss the problem and tries to guide them towards a solution. If that doesn’t work, the parties can go to the Tenancy Tribunal, where a hearing will take place in front of an adjudicator and the parties will get a chance to tell their side of the story. The parties usually must represent themselves.

If you have any further questions, the SOULS Tenancy Program is here to help, where you can get free advice on almost anything tenancy related from practicing lawyers. Sessions will begin mid-March. Check us out on Facebook in the meantime.

Written by Mario Thorne and Adam van Heezik.

 

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