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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Kapiti
    Posts
    140

    Default The joy of social networking

    Yesterday I received a letter from my student tenants out of the blue accusing me of not meeting my responsibilities as a landlord. They have requested that I a) provide permanent heating for the property b) make sure there are no draughts around windows and doors and c) that I fix some external access steps to the property that get a bit muddy when wet. They say if they don't hear from me within the next 14 days they will apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for the work to be done and may ask for the tenancy to be terminated.

    They have been there for a year and this has never been an issue previously. It's an unheated flat (this is their second winter in the property) and there is more than one access to the property which they can easily use instead when it is wet. They are on a FT agreement which expires in January.

    Being cynical, I immediately thought they were simply trying to get out of the FT tenancy. A quick check on Facebook has revealed a posting from one of the tenants telling the world they are looking at a new flat and looking for a fifth flatmate for the new property.

    How should I handle this? It's a student let and we will probably find it hard to get new tenants halfway through the year. Should I let them know that I know what they are up to or should I pass on what I know to the TT?
    Last edited by essence; 17-05-2009 at 12:56 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Tauranga
    Posts
    1,518

    Default

    First, don't get suckered into their game.
    An FTT is a term contract to which they are bound unless there is a failure under the contract.

    Second, everything is negotiable.

    You have said you want the rent which they are bound to pay. I doubt that the Tenancy Tribunal will let them out for their given reasons but do you need the agrow.? The fact that they have given you 14 days to react suggests that they do not know the RTA. nor do they understand their responsibilities under a FTT.

    Ask yourself is the issue of draught reasonable? If you think it is go to Mega 10 and buy some draught stop and stick it around the windows and doors. Fixes that argument. As for heating go to Mega 10 or trademe and buy a coup[le of cheap oil heaters. You have supplied the heating. Whether they can afford to run the heaters is their issue. Cheap solutions to both issues and will be good for the next lot of tenants.
    Throw some pavers at the doorstep, cheap and again work longterm.

    You didn't say how many tenants are in the flat. They maybe struggling if one has left but you could offer to reduce the rent by that persons share for a period to allow them to find another tenant. I reckon that most of the rent is better than a Tribunal hearing and an empty flat. After all if they get stupid and start to not pay the rent or damage the property etc it will cost a lot more to remedy.
    But go and check out the lie of the land. Get the whole picture. and when you have remind them of their responsibilities. i.e. FTT and pay the rent.
    Last edited by Viking; 17-05-2009 at 10:55 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    7,649

    Default

    I'd say some sort of heating probably should be supplied - Kapiti is hardly the tropics - maybe some wall heaters? If you supply standalone oil heaters you may find they exit the property with a change of tenancy - just a thought.

    Cheers,

    Donna
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Whangarei
    Posts
    5,867

    Default

    Firstly, I wouldn't let them know that you're aware of their Facebook posting. Print that out and save it in case it heads to tenancy tribunal.

    a) Provide permanent heating for the property.

    This is entirely up to you. You're not required to provide any heating. Direct them to their nearest heating appliance retailer.

    b) Make sure there are no draughts around windows and doors.

    Again, not a requirement but it would probably a good idea and would look good that you made some effort should it go further.

    c) That I fix some external access steps to the property that get a bit muddy when wet.

    Not sure about this one... I guess it depends on why they're getting muddy. What is wrong with a bucket of water? Might not be your problem either but it could be something that you need to address anyway.

    Stand your ground. There's a surplus of rentals out there at the moment, so if they're paying the rent, I'd hold onto them. Document everything.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Bay Of Plenty, NZ
    Posts
    3,604

    Default

    They have requested that I a) provide permanent heating for the property
    There's these things called plugs. They plug electric heaters into them. If you have not promised heating to the flat, it is not your responsibility to do so. HOWEVER I would go to the Salvation Army shop on Kapiti Road and buy a second hand oil heater (about $20 - the Sallies electrically test them to make sure they are safe) and supply that to the flat. I would type up a letter of acknowledge that you (LL) has provided the said heater and it becomes part of the flat inventory and is to be returned at the end of the tenancy. Make a note of serial numbers etc.

    b) make sure there are no draughts around windows and doors and
    As Drelly suggested. I'd give the tenants two days notice for Maintenance and then I would affix draft stopping around said doors and windows. It also allows you to get a free inspection at the same time.

    c) that I fix some external access steps to the property that get a bit muddy when wet.
    Aren't there steps for access already? If so, go to Placies and buy a black door matt - you know the ones with the big holes? - so that they can WIPE THEIR FEET BEFORE THEY WALK IN THE FLAT - DUH!!

    They say if they don't hear from me within the next 14 days they will apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for the work to be done and may ask for the tenancy to be terminated.
    Serve them Notice that you are going to be at flat on xxx day @ xxx time to remedy some problems. Also advise that they do not need to be in attendance so you to do the maintenance.

    They have been there for a year and this has never been an issue previously. It's an unheated flat (this is their second winter in the property) and there is more than one access to the property which they can easily use instead when it is wet. They are on a FT agreement which expires in January.
    These comments solve your problem. If they have the cojones to take you to TT, state these facts. Take a screenprint of the Facebook page as well. This is a case of they've changed their mind and are trying to get out of the tenancy.

    Stay calm. Let them dig themselves a bigger hole.

    P.S. Whilst they are threatening you with 14 days (illegal time frame, not mentioned in the RTA), whatever the legal time frame which may apply to any situation, starts when you receive the notice/letter, NOT WHEN THE TENANT SENDS IT. They must allow 2-3 days for mail delivery.
    Last edited by essence; 17-05-2009 at 01:13 PM.
    Patience is a virtue.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Cyberspace
    Posts
    5,792

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by essence View Post

    P.S. Whilst they are threatening you with 14 days (illegal time frame, not mentioned in the RTA), whatever the legal time frame which may apply to any situation, starts when you receive the notice/letter, NOT WHEN THE TENANT SENDS IT. They must allow 2-3 days for mail delivery.



    Just an off topic comment.
    1. There is one mention of 14 days in the RTA.
    2. Time frames start when the letter is posted.
    Now, I'll get told off for being picky.
    Last edited by Keys; 17-05-2009 at 02:11 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Bay Of Plenty, NZ
    Posts
    3,604

    Default

    Hey, I'm more than happy to be proven wrong. That's how education is sometimes.

    My question - if I was to serve a tenant a 10-day Notice to Remedy, I am advised by the Tenancy Services advisory people, that I must allow 2-3 days for mail delivery.

    Keys, if I'm reading your comment right, you're suggesting that the time frame STARTS when the tenant mails it. How come the rules are different if I was to mail something to the tenant??

    This raises the issue - if the tenant posts mail after 10 pm on Friday night at a urban street post box, it won't be picked up until Monday. NZ Post has advised that they are no longer doing weekend pick ups.

    Once it is processed by NZ Post, I may not receive it until, perhaps, late Wednesday or even Thursday. Should there need to be maintenance issues which I need to get a builder etc in to fix it, there's usually not much chance of getting them to a property within a fortnight. I am automatically outside the time frame (illegal or otherwise) specified by the tenant.

    It's okay for the tenant to dictate time frames that may or may not be legal, but the LL (poor old!!) MUST stick to the times frames set down by the RTA.

    How about a bit of equality here!!!

    Oh this is what I found re 14 days

    48 Landlord’s right of entry

    (2) The landlord may enter the premises—
    (a) in any case of emergency; or
    (b) for the purpose of inspecting the premises, at any time between 8 o’clock in the morning and 7 o’clock in the evening on a day specified in a notice given to the tenant not less than 48 hours nor more than 14 days before the intended entry, and not more frequently than
    once in any period of 4 weeks;
    Patience is a virtue.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    4,018

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by essence
    My question - if I was to serve a tenant a 10-day Notice to Remedy, I am advised by the Tenancy Services advisory people, that I must allow 2-3 days for mail delivery.
    Ah, one of my pet peeves - call centre staff working in the public service. These are the jobs the govt. dishes out to keep the employment stats looking healthy. Never forget that, like most public servants working in call centres, odds are that servant you are speaking to is ignorant of the matters they are supposedly advising you on.

    Here is what the RTA actually says (section 136(6)):

    Where any document is sent by post in accordance with any of the foregoing provisions of this section, it shall be deemed, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to have been given or served on the 4th working day after the date on which it was posted; and, in proving service, it shall be sufficient to prove that the letter was properly addressed and posted.
    Essence, the rules are NOT different if you post something to a tenant. You just happened to get incorrect advice. There is equality before the law on this point, and the tenant may not dictate something that is contrary to the provisions of the RTA. (Section 11 of the RTA does not apply here.)

    I don't think that Keys was saying that the time frame starts when the notice is posted. The ten working day notice takes effect from the time at which it is deemed to have been served. A ten working day notice does not become a 14 working day notice simply because it is deemed to be served on the 4th working day after it was posted. I think Keys' reference to the 14 days was the occurence in section 48, which is of no relevance here. He was simply (as he admits) being picky, in relation to your comment that the 14 day time frame is not mentioned in the RTA.

    Paul.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Bay Of Plenty, NZ
    Posts
    3,604

    Default

    They say if they don't hear from me within the next 14 days they will apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for the work to be done and may ask for the tenancy to be terminated.
    Now this brings up an interesting situation.

    The tenants have THREATENED to take the LL to TT if they don't hear from his within 14 days. 14 days from when?? When the letter was posted or received??

    The tenant posts the letter on x date and 14 days later throws their toys out of the cot and applies to TT for a hearing. The LL however, has not received it until (say) 4 days after tenant mailed it. The LL believes that he/she has time to remedy problem, and works diligently to get it done within that time frame.

    Before that time is up they have received a TM hearing date.

    Most likely this confusing situation would not happen, but it potentially could.
    Patience is a virtue.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    4,018

    Default A friendly letter in reply.

    Dear (name of tenants),

    Thank you for you letter dated (insert date here).

    I shall address each of your concerns in turn:

    1. Heating. Under law, there is no requirement upon landlords to provide heating to a premises. I suggest you forgo your next brazilian and instead invest in a heater from the Warehouse. You will be warmer for both those efforts.

    2. Drafts and steps. Thank you for notifying me of these issues, which I shall attend to promptly. As per section 48 2(d) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, I am required to provide a minimum of 24 hours notice to enter the premises to effect these repairs. I am entitled to entry any time between the hours of 8am and 7pm, on any day of the week. You are not required to be present, although you are perfectly entitled to be. Once I have decided on a time I am able to effect the repairs, you will hear from me 24 hours beforehand.

    3. Termination of tenancy. I suggest you familiarise yourselves with section 56 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. You will find that you have no grounds on which to seek a termination of tenancy, given that I will be remedying the defects for which I have an obligation to remedy.

    I also suggest you familiarise yourself with the Tenancy Tribunal orders online database, and the Tenancy Information New Zealand bad tenant register. This is where your name will appear if you fail to fulfill your obligations under your fixed term tenancy. The result of appearing on these databases will make it very hard for you to find accomodation anywhere in New Zealand.

    Think of these websites as a permanent record of your actions, for all to see. Much like Facebook.

    Yours smugly,

    The Landlord.
    Last edited by BusyLizzy; 17-05-2009 at 07:24 PM. Reason: fixed typo


 

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