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More Assistance For Tenants And Termination Restrictions Lifted

“NZ Property Investors’ Federation (NZPIF) is delighted that the Coalition Government has lifted the temporary tenancy termination limitations” said Sharon Cullwick, NZPIF Executive Officer. “We understand that the aim of these restrictions, announced on 26th of March, was to stop people's movement and protect public safety while sustaining tenancies as the threat of Covid -19 was present”.

“However”, Cullwick pointed out, “there have been a number of unintended consequences as a result. These include families returning from overseas only to find they could not move into their properties, and farm contractors refusing to leave farm accommodation at the end of their contracts to allow new contractors to move in. These situations can now be corrected.”

The restrictions were part of the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Act 2020, which not only prevented landlords from issuing termination notices but also prohibited rental price increases during the period of the lock down. As New Zealand is now at Level 1, the need to prevent movement is no longer necessary although the rent freeze must continue for the six months as initially decided.

The terminations notice restrictions were for three months. They also provided that fixed-term tenancies automatically rolled over to periodic tenancy agreements, and all rental price increases or termination notices which had been issued had no effect.

Usual termination rules will now apply from 26th June 2020. The removal of these temporary measures allows landlords to give termination notices to tenants under the standard Residential Tenancies Act 1986 provisions. Usual notice periods will apply from the date notices are given. Landlords who have had fixed-term agreements rollover can now send notices to terminate these tenancies.

During this time, we encourage landlords and tenants to continue to work together and seek to come to a fair and workable agreement about rent arrears. Tenants who can't pay their rent should let their landlords know straight away and landlords are encouraged to talk to tenants about rent arrears before termination notices are issued.

“It is welcome news that the Ministry of Social Development has also extended and increased the Rent Arrears Assistance to support people who may be struggling to pay rent”, said Cullwick. “This means that the tenants under financial stress can obtain assistance and therefore not add to the financial stress of their landlords, who may need the rent payments to avoid getting into debt themselves.”

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