8 ways COVID-19 changes tenancy deals

Tenants have been given a helping hand from the government because of the coronavirus, and this has implications for landlords, too.

By Steve Lowe

30-04-2020
Tenants have been given a helping hand from the government because of the coronavirus, and this has implications for landlords, too.

New government rules state no tenant can refuse to pay rent unless they are suffering from financial stress due to loss of employment because of the virus.

In those circumstances, non-payment of rent has been eased from 30 to 60 days before landlords are permitted to issue an eviction notice.

Landlords and tenants affected by the COVID-19 crisis should discuss their specific situation with their property manager. It’s essential everyone acts in good faith, and we encouraged everyone to work together to help get through this dislocating time.

It’s reasonable for a landlord to ask the tenant for written evidence, perhaps from their employer, to demonstrate the stress caused by COVID-19.

One option might be rent deferral, but we caution tenants that they will have to pay the deferred rent at an agreed stage. This might be a large amount of money that could be difficult to pay.

Perhaps a better option might be a reduction of rent over an agreed period. Any agreement should be made in writing.

Here is a snapshot of the new government rules impacting tenants in NZ.

Rents have been frozen for six months.

Rent rises notified before the virus crisis is suspended.

Moratorium now exists on all evictions for three months.

Tenants experiencing a “no-cause” eviction can now stay.

Evictions are permitted only for other lease transgressions, such as keeping the property clean, or anti-social or illegal behaviour.

Leases that end within the next three months are to be extended, effectively making them period leases, unless they lapse, by mutual arrangement

The Tenancy Tribunal can decide on any case based on documentation presented. This means the landlord and tenant are no longer required to appear.

Tribunal encouraged to find in favour of any tenant who shows in good faith financial distress suffered because of the economic impact of the coronavirus.

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| COVID-19 | Tenants