Welcome to this new fortnightly column on life as a renter in Wellington. I am a post-grad student here at Vic, and have been renting and flatting for 24 years throughout the North Island. During this time, I have had one or two good landlords and loads of abysmal ones. I have been to the Tenancy Tribunal twice, and the District Court once on matters related to renting. I’m writing this column because I am sick of getting shat on by greedy landlords and the courts. I want all students to get through the renting process without going through it, too.
There is a big difference between what the law says landlords can do, and what they actually do. A landlord can continue to break the law for months, because that is how long it may take to get a hearing in front of the Tenancy Tribunal. There are methods for getting the best out of your landlord, so it is worth knowing what your rights are and what you can get away with.
Your place of residence should be your home – your haven. We are paying more and more to live in places where we can maintain good health, not be too cold, and have a decent quality of life. Getting the basics out of a rental property on a student income is almost impossible. And guess what? Your landlord doesn’t give a damn!
The process of renting can be a smooth ride if you have a one-in-a-thousand really good landlord, but it can quite often become a nightmare. Just as a taster:
Scary things about your rights (or lack of) as a renter:
Once you sign a fixed term lease, the landlord can make you pay to get out of it early.
When your term is up on a fixed term lease, your landlord can make you leave without telling you why.
Your landlord can tell lies with no proof at the Tenancy Tribunal. These lies can be used to charge you money you don’t owe – and you may have no right of appeal.
Your landlord can have right of veto for any of your flatmates, even if you are losing money when they keep turning potential flatmates down.
If you have a dispute with your landlord, you may never get your bond back.
Your landlord may take months to get some ‘non-emergency’ things fixed even if it makes your life hell – there may be nothing you can do about this without going to court.
If a landlord says you damaged the place, and you have no proof otherwise, you may have to pay for that too.
If you go to the Tenancy Tribunal and you lose your case, you have to appeal to the District Court, as there is only one Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator at Wellington.
At the Wellington Tenancy Tribunal, the adjudicator’s decision is the last word, unless you appeal. He doesn’t even have to provide proof to back up his decisions.
I will also answer your specific questions about renting every other week in Salient. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.