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Support For Boarding House Tenants Welcomed

Support For Boarding House Tenants Welcomed

Boarding house tenants have been in a vulnerable position for too long. Over-due protections are now being offered in the form of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill, which has been welcomed by the New Zealand Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux, and is currently being considered by the Social Services Select Committee.

“Nationwide, Citizens Advice Bureaux have dealt with 46,600 enquiries about residential tenancies since mid-1998 – about 45 tenancy related enquiries every working day,” says Nick Toonen, CEO of the Association, which represents the country’s 87 Citizens Advice Bureaux.

The Bill introduces statutory provisions to govern long-term boarding house tenancies. It stipulates the rights and obligations of boarding house landlords and tenants, and enables them to take their disputes before the Tenancy Tribunal.

According to Toonen, “The Association endorses the Bill’s provision to ensure consistency between general residential tenancies and boarding house tenancies, and that tenants in both situations are afforded an equal level of rights and protections.

“Boarding house tenants have for too long been afforded fewer rights than general residential tenancies, although the residences are not that different in nature.

“These provisions will go a long way towards protecting people in vulnerable situations. Specifically, the Bill allows boarding house tenants to expect quiet enjoyment in the tenancy, and details rules about a landlord’s rights of entry and notice for ending tenancies. The Bill also allows landlords to establish house rules relating to the use and enjoyment of the premises, which recognises the communal nature of living in boarding houses.

“The Association also strongly endorses the provision in the Bill which allows the Tenancy Tribunal to award exemplary damages against those landlords who fail to comply with building requirements and health and safety legislation. Bureaux regularly receive enquiries from tenants in both general boarding and residency houses whose landlords have failed to do urgent and important repairs on the property.”

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