National plans big rental law shake-up

The Government is about to overhaul laws governing the lives of more than one million tenants.

The previous Labour Government wanted to introduce pro-tenant provisions, but the new National-led Government plans to scrap the most contentious of these so the balance is more even, and to pass sweeping reforms.

Moves to limit tenant liability for property damage, pay for professional tenant advocates in Tenancy Tribunal hearings and ban real estate agents from charging letting fees could all be scrapped.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley told the Herald yesterday that he was reviewing Labour's Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2) and was considering many changes.

He hopes to introduce by the middle of the year a revised bill that will scrap Labour's attempt to limit tenant liability.

Its proposal was to cap financial liability for property damage to four weeks' rent, a move of great concern to landlords.

A month's rent would have been the maximum penalty for any damage if the Tenancy Tribunal or a court decided the tenant did not cause it intentionally or recklessly. This was proposed after a tenant was held responsible for the actions of a flatmate in causing a Dunedin house fire.

To read the full NZ Herald article click here

Posted: 19 Feb 2009

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