Landlords’ concerns about the timeliness of the formal tenancy dispute resolution process through the Department of Building and Housing and the Tenancy Tribunal are being heard, Housing Minister Phil Heatley says.
By Susan Edmunds
Writing in the latest issue of the New Zealand Property Investor magazine, he said the NZ Property Investors Federation had expressed concerns.
Heatley said he could understand why.
“A timely dispute resolution is not only important for the landlord/tenant relationship but it is imperative for those who rely on the rental income from their property investment to pay the mortgage and the maintenance bill.”
About 50,000 Tenancy Tribunal applications are processed by the Department of Building and Housing every year, most due to rent arrears.
The Department is now part of the new Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.
Heatley said in many cases it was incomplete application forms that were slowing the process down.
But he said steps were being taken to allow faster access to either mediation or Tenancy Tribunal hearings.
The guidelines for processing Tenancy Tribunal applications are being reviewed to help them be scheduled for a mediation or hearing more quickly.
Applications will now be scheduled for either mediation or a hearing based first on what the client indicates is their preference, and then what the best dispute resolution option is for their situation.
Heatley said that most mediation was now telephone-based and there were mediators around New Zealand, so clients should have faster access to them.
In the last financial year, there was a 10 per cent increase in the number of Tenancy Tribunal days – up by 332. People were being sent automated text and email reminders of their appointments and the department was trying to offer targeted advice to those that needed it.
Heatley said there were also plans to simplify the Tenancy Tribunal application form to avoid hold-ups there.
“I’m impressed with the way the DBH has taken investors’ concerns on board and moved to quickly address them,” he said.