Recently, the government has decided to implement a “three strikes compliant scheme”, as similarly provided for in the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act (RTA). While this is an honourable and overdue change, it is potentially unworkable.
What this policy does not say is this (I refer to the above Act, because I assume Kāinga Ora will not amend their Act to allow for the “three strikes complaint scheme” to operate):
“… a landlord (read here a Kāinga Ora tenant) may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal (read here, Kāinga Ora) to end a periodic tenancy if:
– on three separate occasions within a 90-day period, a tenant (or a person in the premises with the tenant’s permission) has engaged in anti-social behaviour in connection with the tenancy; and
– a valid notice for anti-social behaviour was served on the tenant following each of those occasions.
› The notice for anti-social behaviour must clearly describe:
- the specific behaviour considered to be anti-social.
- who engaged in the anti-social behaviour (if this is known to the landlord).
- the date, approximate time, and location of the behaviour; and
- how many other notices (if any) have been issued in connection to anti-social behaviour at the same tenancy within the same 90-day period.
› The notice must advise the tenant that they have the right to challenge the notice in the Tenancy Tribunal.
› If a tenant challenges a notice of anti-social behaviour in the Tenancy Tribunal, the landlord must prove the anti-social behaviour occurred and that the three notices met the above requirements.
› If the Tenancy Tribunal considers that the notices were issued in accordance with the RTA, it must terminate the tenancy unless:
– doing so would be unfair because of the circumstances in which the behaviour occurred, or the notices were given; or
– the landlord was partly or wholly motivated to apply to end the tenancy by the tenant exercising their legal rights or making a complaint (a retaliatory response)”.
Essentially, private landlords now find it very difficult to evict bad tenants, if at all. After talking to a private landlord, the unintended consequence of removing the ’90 day no cause eviction notice’ is clear; the most vulnerable people are the most impacted as landlords are too scared to take on the potential risk of tenants that have previously been in emergency housing or had a ruling against them in Tenancy Tribunal as they know that if anything goes wrong, there is no reasonable way to move people on. This risk becomes even more significant in a situation of multiple tenancies (e.g., a block of units) when the landlord has a duty of care to the adjacent tenancies.
Thus, under the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, this is an unworkable clause and will equally apply to the three strikes complaint scheme currently being initiated by Kāinga Ora.
Because a complainant has to make three complaints over three months (a smart delinquent tenant could easily scale back behaviour over 90 days to prevent three complaints being made against them), potentially against a violent or/and aggressive person or group, who are undertaking the worst kind of behaviour, and consequently they may well feel quite intimidated to lay up to three complaints in a 90-day period. Further, if their complaint fails, or fails to materialise, then they still must live next door to the unruly tenant.
While this change in policy is welcome, it remains to be seen how it will be implemented.
I have attached an article by Anneke Smith of Radio New Zealand regarding the government’s proposed change to the No Evictions policy. I have also met with Anneke to discuss this. If you listen to the interview piece, some of you may know who George is.
The point is, that at least the minister has finally listened, and Kāinga Ora have a policy they can use against the 1% of unruly Kāinga Ora tenants. Hopefully, this policy will help all those people who have had to suffer the consequences of living next to unruly Kāinga Ora tenants. There must be a bottom line, and unscrupulous tenants need to understand that their actions do have a consequence – eviction. Sadly, it has taken too long to get to this point. I remain sceptical that Kāinga Ora will apply the “Three strikes complaint scheme” because it is essentially unworkable. However, at least it is start.