I have a tenancy starting during the Lockdown? Can my tenants move in? If they can't, will they still be paying rent?
At alert Level 4, everyone is instructed to stay in their current place of residence where possible. Moving can only occur in exceptional circumstances (e.g. domestic violence situations). It is encouraged for landlords and tenants to talk to each other and work on a solution together. It might be best to move the start date of the tenancy forward or let tenants not pay rent for the time they can't occupy the property. It is important to remember that if they can't move into your property, they also can't move out, so they will need to continue paying rent elsewhere. You may want to talk to your insurance company to see if you're covered for loss of income in situations like this.
I have an inspection scheduled during the Lockdown; what should I do?
Landlords should not carry on face-to-face inspections while Level 4 restrictions are in place. You can choose to run a virtual inspection instead if your tenants agree (The ordinary notice periods required before an inspection also still apply). However, if you do, this will push out the timeframe for your next inspection. You can also choose to cancel and re-schedule for when the restrictions are downgraded, and it's practically possible to conduct inspections in person. But best to contact your insurer about specific requirements.
I have scheduled for a tradesman to visit a property during the Lockdown? Can this go ahead if the tenants are not there? Can I carry out works myself if the property is currently vacant?
No. All scheduled non-essential appointments and visits to the property can no longer take place. Any trade visits to handle an emergency at your rental property can still go ahead. However, you shouldn't visit the property to address non-urgent maintenance, even if it's empty.
I'm considering helping tenants unable to pay rent by offering a temporary rent reduction, rent holiday or payment plan. How best to do it without breaching the Act?
If you're considering one of these options, we have a good article on the topic that may help you understand the best approach for you.
Can I ask for evidence of financial hardship if tenants can't pay rent?
Yes, if your tenants seek rent relief, you can ask for evidence to confirm they're experiencing hardship. However, it would be best to collect the minimum necessary information to help you make a decision. This could be in the form of a letter from the tenants' employer showing a reduction in working hours or redundancy confirmation. Whatever you are asking for, make sure it is relevant not to breach Privacy Act.
If your tenants have been affected by the COVID-19 alert level changes, WINZ may be able to provide some financial assistance.
Can I still issue a 14-day notice to remedy if tenants are in arrears?
Yes, you can still legally issue a 14-day notice to remedy rent arrears. You may want to reach out to your tenants and check if you can come up with a solution together if they find it challenging to meet their rent obligations because of the Covid-19.
Can rent be increased during the Lockdown?
The measures introduced by the Government during the last Lockdown through the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Amendment Act are no longer in place. Therefore, scheduled rent increases can still go ahead. It is recommended, however, to discuss tenants current situation and delay planned rent increases wherever possible.
I have a tenancy ending during the Lockdown? Can my tenants move out? If they need to stay, do I need to sign a new agreement?
Unfortunately, moving in and out will be considered non-essential. Everyone is encouraged to stay where they are until the Alert Levels are down to Level 3. S.60 of the RTA covers situations where tenants continue to occupy the property after termination of tenancy. The tenant will continue to be responsible for property and rent payments until they move out. One thing to keep in mind is that under the same section, if the landlord allows tenants to stay at the property for longer than 90 days after the tenancy end date, then the tenancy will automatically become periodic. To avoid this, a possession order should be obtained.
Can I still issue notice to terminate the tenancy?
Yes, for the time being, there is no ban on terminations. However, keep in mind that if the tenancy ends during the Lockdown, your tenancy will end, but the tenants may be forced to continue occupying the property until they're allowed to move.
Can I still look for tenants and advertise the property?
Yes. You can still advertise. There is a ban on in-person viewings (private and open homes). However, you can show the property using pre-recorded videos and photos. If the property is on the same lot as yours (e.g. granny flat) and is currently vacant, you can run virtual viewings instead.
To help you with information about uncertain times we're facing, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre
The information contained in this article is exclusively for promotional purposes. It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as the basis for any legal action or contractual dealings. The information is not and does not attempt to be, a comprehensive account of the relevant law in New Zealand. If you require legal advice, you should seek independent legal counsel. myRent.co.nz does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.