The Covid-19 Response (Urgent Management) Act, that went through Parliament and was given Royal Assent in a single day (May 25, 2020) was intended to “put in place the necessary arrangements in order to implement Covid-19 alert level four”.
Schedule 5 of this Act spells out the draconian measures that froze or changed rental property processes to do with unpaid rent and tenancy terminations for three months. These include measures that mean:
1. Tenants can stop paying rent for 60 days before any consequences. This is up from 21 days.
2. Owners face a fine of $6,500 if they give notice or apply to terminate a tenancy.
3. Tenants may stay in a property despite having given notice and without regard to the rights of a new tenant who has signed an agreement to rent the property.
There is an option to extend the tenancy termination provisions for a further three months, which would take us to a period after the election.
We are now in level two and will soon be in level one. If the rental property provisions of the Act were set up for level four, and since we are no longer under those restrictions, surely the rental property provisions of the Act are already redundant.
These harsh, anti-landlord measures appear to have nothing to do with Covid-19 and everything to do with the current Government implementing its controversial amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act without having to get them through Parliament.
This is an affront to democracy and it rides roughshod over the rights of New Zealand’s rental property owners, many of whom are leaving the sector.
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