By Susan Edmunds
The owners of a New Zealand rental property in which the tenants fell behind in rent are frustrated at how difficult it has been to remove them.
Leanne and Adrian Tuffley own the property on Kingslea St, Oamaru through their company Tuffley Developments, Stuff reports.
They bought the four-bedroom house with the intention to demolish it and build townhouses.
On October 14, they issued its tenants a 90-day notice to vacate the property, which gave them until January 15.
But they said she refused to leave, and also stopped paying rent.
On January 20, the Tenancy Tribunal granted possession of the house to the owners, and the tenant was ordered to pay $2483, plus the bond, to the Tuffleys.
An eviction was carried out on February 10, with assistance from the police.
But on February 17, a stay of proceedings was issued because the tenant applied for a rehearing. The tenants returned three days later. Leanne Tuffley said there were 11 people living in the four-bedroom house, including seven children, and three dogs.
A rehearing was set for April 20 and the Tuffleys were initially told there was nothing that could be done until then.
But Adrian Tuffley made “four or five” phone calls to the Ministry of Justice and spent eight hours on the phone before he found someone who agreed with them that, once an eviction notice had been executed and a trespass notice given, the tenants should not be re-granted possession.
The rehearing was only about the unpaid rent, not about the 90-day notice.
But he said even then he was told to go to a lawyer to reapply for another eviction notice. “I then rang the bailiff who said no that’s not correct, if they’ve already been evicted you don’t have to apply for another one so I’m going to the police.”
Leanne Tuffley said it had been a difficult and frustrating process that made it clear to the couple why people would not want to be residential landlords. The couple had done what the law required them to do and had issued both a legal 90-day notice and been given possession by the tribunal.
“What right do these people have to our property?”
She said damage to the house had reduced it to below land value.
Adrian Tuffley said they had planned to move in but could not do so.
There were not enough rights for landlords to get problem tenants out, he said.
“We can’t afford a lawyer at the drop of a hat.”
New Zealand Property Investors Federation spokesman Andrew King said he had heard of similar situations.
It highlighted how problematic not being able to issue a 90-day notice would be, he said. That change is part of the Government’s latest round of rental law reforms.
“I was speaking to a member late last year who had a tenant causing issues for a neighbour. She issued the tenant a 90-day notice which they left till the last minute then applied to the tenancy tribunal to have it overturned. They lost the case but the tenant appealed. The appeal was lost and she went to the district court. She lost here as well but ended up staying for nine months after the 90-day notice should have applied.
“The original affected neighbour moved because it took so long. The new replacement neighbour came and went before the tenant eventually moved.
“It is totally wrong to make this process harder, especially when it is being put forward as improving tenants’ security when only 3 per cent of tenants receive a 90-day notice each year.”
The tenants have been approached for comment.
-Article was reproduced with the permission of Stuff.