Wellington Property Investors' Association

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wellington@nzpif.org.nz

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30-10-2008

Record, sign and seal to sort out tenancy problems

Even the best landlords and tenants can run into problems that need sorting out. Usually the best way of doing this is to come to an agreement between yourselves.
 
However, it’s important to remember that if you agree on a solution together, you should record all the terms of this agreement in writing and both sign it.
 
For more serious situations, for example if you think you may eventually have to lodge a Tenancy Tribunal application, you should get this agreement ‘sealed’ by a Department of Building and Housing mediator.  
 
If you do this, the agreement becomes enforceable, which means that if one of you breaks the agreement then the other person can have the agreement enforced through the Courts.
 
Many seasoned landlords deal with tenancy issues, both big and small. Under the Residential Tenancies Act there are specific ways set out to deal with these situations. For example, you can serve a 10 working days’ notice or file an application to the Tenancy Tribunal.
 
Most landlords will try to discuss the issue with their tenants first, to avoid having to go through the entire Tenancy Tribunal process. This is where good practice is important and where ‘sealing’ your agreement can help both of you.
 
‘For example, if you agree with your tenant that they’re going to repay your rent arrears on top of their existing rent payments, you should record this agreement, both of you should sign it and then get the agreement sealed by one of our mediators,’ says Jeff Montgomery of the Department of Building and Housing.
 
Another example is where a tenant’s circumstances change and they want to break a fixed term tenancy so they can move out sooner. 
 
‘Instead of taking them to the Tenancy Tribunal to enforce the tenancy agreement, you may agree to release them from the agreement by allowing them to give 21 days’ notice and give you a contribution towards the advertising costs for finding a new tenant,’ Jeff says.
 
’What you are doing is agreeing to a variation to the original tenancy agreement. Again, you should record it, sign it and seal it.’
 
Applications to get an agreement sealed can be made at www.dbh.govt.nz/TenancyTribunal or by calling 0800Tenacny for a form.
 
 
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