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The Tenancy Tribunal – Decisions they make

By Donna Jones

A low interest rate, and decreasing and competitive rental market, the good tenant is becoming somewhat more elusive. What is becoming more paramount is that the communication channels between property owner and renter need to remain open and clear at all times.

There are three common tenancy disputes: [1]

1.       Access to the property by the landlord

2.       Maintenance of the property

3.       Withholding deposits/bond

Of course utilising the services of McPherson Property Management will negate the occurrence of a tenant and property owner dispute, where all communication goes through us as an intermediary and we have the experience and skills to ensure that what needs to be communicated is. If you haven’t quite grasped the need for a property manager just yet, read on.

But if you find yourself heading to the Tenancy Tribunal, what can you expect?

The first part of the Tribunal is all around mediation – the aim is that by sitting down with all parties, that a compromise can be reached by all and that the corrective actions can be put in place. Any decision that is made at the Tribunal mediation or a hearing is coined an ‘order’. Orders are the records of what happens at mediation or a hearing, and describes the results.

There are three types of orders that can be made[2]:

1.       A Mediator’s Order (not sealed)

The mediator’s order is a record of how a landlord and tenant have agreed to resolve the stated problem. Often or not the actual problem is actually solved at this point but the mediation is focussed on the problem not arising again. A common example is rent falling into arrears and that this is to not happen again.

2.       A Sealed Mediator’s Order

A Mediator’s order may state what the landlord, tenant or both of them has promised to do, and what will happen if they don’t follow through. In order to enforce this, the order must be sent to the Tenancy Tribunal to be sealed.

“The most common situations for sealing a mediator’s order are where:

  • the tenant has agreed to pay off the overdue rent in addition to the weekly rent
  • the landlord has agreed to undertake work on the property.

If the tenant breaches the order, the most common consequences are that the tenancy is ended and the overdue money becomes payable immediately. If the landlord breaches the order, the most common consequences are that the tenant pays less rent until the property is fixed, or the tenant can end the tenancy.”[3]

3.       An Order of the Tenancy Tribunal

After the occurrence of a Tenancy Tribunal hearing, the adjudicator will issue an order.

What can the Orders cover?

“The most common orders are those ordering tenancies to end, money to be paid or work to be done. For example, the Tribunal can order a tenant to pay overdue rent, or a landlord to repair a property.”

With the ability to award compensation and order work to be done to the property up to the value of $50,000, the ‘judgement’ judgement of the Tribunal is extremely significant.

The seven common orders made by the tribunal include the following:

1.       Orders to regain possession of a property

2.       Orders to recover money

3.       Orders to get work done

4.       Orders for payment of bond

5.       Orders to deduct money form wages

6.       Orders for debt recovery costs

7.       Order for compensation

For more a more in depth look at these seven orders you can refer to the Tenancy Services website.

Summary

Our advice is that there is usually no need for having to move towards utilising the Tenancy Tribunal’s services. By employing the services of a property management company, the ability to manage the tenant on a daily basis there is a limited capacity for disputes to arise and for this to escalate to a dispute.

Often or not, Property Managers become the mediators and can work towards a satisfactory outcome for all parties. If you’re in need of a Property Manager, look no further than McPherson Property Managers and stop by for a coffee and a chat and we can talk through and advise you on managing your investment.

[1] http://www.apimagazine.com.au/blog/2015/11/tenants-a-thorn-in-your-side-a-property-manager-can-help/
[2] https://tenancy.govt.nz/disputes/tribunal/decisions-the-tribunal-can-make/
[3] https://tenancy.govt.nz/disputes/tribunal/decisions-the-tribunal-can-make/

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