Tenancy Tribunal rulings are a goldmine for journalists looking to turn landlords’ bizarre demands into great headlines.

Hardly surprising, when you read this: Rotorua landlord Blain Allen threatened tenant using gang connections

Don’t be one of those landlords.

The Tenancy Tribunal takes a dim view of unlawful acts and will demand exemplary damages payable to the aggrieved tenant.

Main areas of contention

  • Cooking: We understand that the smell of certain cuisines can linger long after the meal is over. However, landlords cannot dictate what their tenants cook. The most effective way to repel stubborn smells is by installing a professionally fitted, externally vented range hood. Additionally, to prevent smells from permeating carpets and furnishings, we recommend these 10 tried-and-true methods: https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-get-rid-of-cooking-smells-in-a-small-apartment-7644820. We will also be sharing these tips with Goodwins’ tenants.
  • Pets: The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA) does not specifically mention pets, except in relation to boarding houses. However, this is now an evolving area of law, with several Tenancy Tribunal decisions creating confusion regarding the enforceability of a condition in a tenancy agreement that bans pets. These Tenancy Tribunal decisions do not set binding precedent, meaning that other Tribunal or Court decisions do not have to follow them. Therefore, we are closely monitoring if Tenancy Services becomes aware of a decision from a higher court that sets a precedent on this issue and offers more certainty. The Human Rights Act further ensures people cannot be discriminated against on the grounds of disability, including relying on a disability assistance dog. Attempting to enforce a ‘no pets’ clause in this instance puts you at odds with the legislation. It is essential for landlords to navigate these laws carefully and seek legal advice when unsure to avoid potential legal issues.
  • Parties: How many landlords have told their new tenants “no parties”? You can’t make any such demand. However, under the Residential Tenancies Act, tenants are obligated to respect others’ quiet enjoyment of the property. So, if your tenants’ party behaviour is rowdy and intolerably unenjoyable, then you have the right to step in. Perhaps a council appointed noise control officer will do the job for you.
  • Guests who stay: Landlords cannot ban their tenants from having guests to stay or request a consent for visiting guests – it breaches a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the property. However, you can place a restriction on the maximum number of occupants living at a rental property. So, when a ‘guest’ is looking a little long term, a landlord can refer to the tenancy agreement and point out that the guest in question isn’t on the tenancy agreement.
  • Changes and remodelling: Tenants are allowed to make changes to a dwelling, but they need to check with the landlord before waving a paint brush. However, small things – such as adding picture hooks – don’t need your attention. Though you can step if there’s a clear reason why they shouldn’t start hammering in hooks, such as creating damage to the property or lowering its value. At the end of a tenancy, the tenant is responsible for returning the property to substantially the same condition it was in before the minor change was made.

Here’s a link to a list of unenforceable and unlawful conditions.

Looking for tenants? Call 0800 GOODWINS to discuss property’s strong points and how we can maximise its appeal to the right tenants.