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.

 

Advertisements

Welcome to Law School from the Dean

Dear Otago Law Students,

Welcome back to those returning and welcome to all of you arriving in the Faculty of Law for the first time. Congratulations to Jasper Fawcett for producing this Welcome to Law School magazine.

The Otago Faculty of Law is a place of learning about law and how to use law to solve problems. Law plays a major role in our society, affecting all aspects of life from the personal, to property, business, the environment, the family, the community, government finance, life and death, taxes, human rights and international relations. Well trained lawyers play a crucial role in ensuring that our own society is governed by law rather than by personal power. In our tradition, the law is primarily created by the democratic process in which our citizens can participate. Parliament has the final say in what the law is and we all participate in electing Parliament through the voting process.

Your ability to serve the law will start here in the Faculty of Law. Develop good habits that will last you a lifetime. There are no shortcuts to learning your legal skills. You must read legal material carefully and thoughtfully. You must take the time to think through how the legal material can be justifiably interpreted and applied to legal problems. Legal research skills can only be acquired by doing a lot of it. Just as writing skills improve by writing a lot and then analysing critically whether what you are saying makes sense, we only learn by doing things and reflecting on our mistakes so we do them better next time.

The collegial atmosphere of the Otago Faculty of Law means that you will have the full support of the Faculty of Law and fellow law students as you work hard on your legal skills. Do not fall into the trap that the notes or work of others will get you ahead. They won’t.  Just as you can’t get fit by watching others at the gym or borrowing their training diary and pretending you have done it yourself, you can’t develop the muscles in your legal brain by relying on the work of others. It is far better to learn from your mistakes than fool yourself by relying on the work of others.

We strongly encourage you to debate and argue with your colleagues but when it comes to writing up legal opinions and assignments, and completing take-home tests, it must all be your own work. Integrity is essential to the worth of a lawyer’s work. People will rely on you and put total trust in you. Honesty is crucial.

I encourage you all to take a full and active part in all the Faculty of Law activities – academic, cultural, social and spiritual. Enter law student competitions, attend public lectures on law, volunteer for the Community Law Centre, be part of the law revue, volunteer at the Ngai Tahu Maori Law Centre, sign up for SOULS, Te Roopu Whai Putake and PILSA, join Law for Change, volunteer for community organisations, play sport, and take part in political debate.

I wish you all a productive year full of challenges, hard work, friendship, generosity and learning.

Written by Mark Henaghan.