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Alexander: Govt bias tarnishes rental law review

Thursday, 18 November 2004

Alexander: Govt bias tarnishes rental law review

United Future's Marc Alexander has told a group of property investors that the Government's review of the Residential Tenancies Act looks like being a "pre-engineered dog".

Everything about the way the Government is going about the review "smacks of engineering an outcome for political purposes, based not on the principles of free trade between buyer and seller but on a social outcome driven by ideology at the expense of private property rights", Mr Alexander told the Capital Property Investors audience in Wellington last night.

Unlike other areas of commercial enterprise, the Government seemed determined to "single out rental property as a means to advance its social policy", he said.

The reality is that the RTA is hugely stacked in favour of tenants and none of the Government's utterances give even the slightest assurance that there is any intention of doing anything about that fact, he said.

Mr Alexander has taken up the cases of a number of landlords whose properties have been trashed by tenants.

While the RTA lists the responsibilities of both landlords and tenants, all the punitive aspects are thrown in the direction of landlords

"There are no provisions for criminal offences if tenants breach their part of the deal. Contrast that with sections 12, 17, 18, 19, 23 27, 29 30, 48 and 137 that contain offences that can be permitted the landlord which carry fines or imprisonment provisions," he said.

"What about section 55, which deals with termination of a rental agreement because of non-payment of rent, damage or assault?

"Why can a landlord be fined $750 for taking more than four weeks' rent as a bond, or lodging the bond later than 23 days into the tenancy, but a tenant who effectively does the same thing by means of getting into arrears gets a 21-day grace period and faces no punishment at all?

"Of course bad landlords should be held to account. But so should bad tenants."

Mr Alexander encouraged landlords to make their concerns known through submissions to the RTA review, despite leanings already indicated by the Government.


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