Wellington Property Investors' Association

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19-02-2009

RTA review under way by National

National has unexpectedly brought forward the introduction of changes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).
The act has been under review for years, but progress has been slow.

Housing minister Phil Heatley says the bill introduced to Parliament last year was “well-intentioned” in that it aims to encourage stable tenancies in homes which are well-looked after while enabling landlords to better manage them.

However, he says concerns have been raised about some specific provisions and matters for which provision was not made, particularly:

  • the absence of proposals allowing for decisive action to be taken to deal with assaults, or threats of assault, by tenants' guests or associates.
  • proposals that will ensure landlords are not hit with the costs of damages done by tenants and those they invite into their homes;
  • ensuring that the Tenancy Tribunal doesn't become an uneven, expensive and time consuming forum through the introduction of professional advocates;
  • clarity around the legal status of a tenancy once the original tenant passes on (inherited tenancies).

The proposed bill was also going to stop real estate agents charging letting fees. Heatley says this will be reconsidered.

The Green Party says National’s plans to reverse changes to residential tenancy laws show a lack of balance and very poor timing.

“It's odd that at a time when more and more people are entering the rental property market the Government should decide to remove reforms aimed at redressing some of the power imbalance between landlords and tenants,” Green Party Housing spokesperson Sue Bradford said.

The Green Party supported all these reforms when Labour announced them last year, and it is disappointing that National has decided not to go ahead with them when it brings the Residential Tenancies Bill (No 2) back to Parliament shortly, Ms Bradford said.

“National talks a lot about fairness and balance, but what's fair about removing measures that bring a lot more balance into the system?”

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