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Christchurch rentals

Written By: - Date published: 7:01 am, March 3rd, 2011 - 47 comments
Categories: housing, tenants' rights - Tags:

As the long haul gets under way in Christchurch there are going to be many flash points for conflict. One of the first to emerge is the tension between landlords and tenants, as the following selection of articles makes clear:

Christchurch earthquake: Landlords play hardball with fleeing tenants

Some Christchurch renters fleeing the shaken city are getting little charity from landlords, who are trying to keep them locked into leases and contracts.

Property investor Nigel Lundy said some renters “just want to pack up their luggage and leave the property owner with the mess. They just want to walk out. “[Some] are treating the earthquake like an excuse to avoid their responsibilities.” …

Mr Lundy defended his attempts to keep tenants in contracts and said early leavers left landlords paying mortgages on vacant properties that generated no income. “We’re people as well, we’ve got lives, we’ve got families, we’re not trying to make someone else suffer financially.”

Tenants still have to pay: service

Landlords and tenants need to strike reasonable deals with each other in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake. The warning comes as property experts predict a loss of equity for home-owners and landlords, an exodus from the city and rising rents in Christchurch and other cities due to increased rental demand.

The temptation for many renters will be to up sticks and go, claiming the homes they rented are now uninhabitable, but Tenancy Services told the Star-Times the earthquake had not given tenants an automatic right to stop paying rent. Around 80% of Christchurch is without power and water. In that context it would not be possible to claim a property was uninhabitable for those reasons alone, a Tenancy Services call centre staffer said. …

Landlords in the city will be under financial pressure, said Auckland investor David Whitburn from the Auckland Property Investors’ Association. Even those whose properties had not been damaged would realise their values had dropped.

“For some landlords, their equity will have been wiped out,” Whitburn said. In the worst cases they will own uninhabitable properties but they will still have to pay the mortgage. The banks would find themselves faced with a stark choice – strike deals with landlords who come to them “cap in hand”, or become mortgagee in possession and manage the insurance rebuild and sale of properties. …

Whitburn said it was inevitable that rents in Christchurch would rise as the number of houses destroyed raises demand. “The temptation for landlords is going to be to raise rents,” Whitburn said, adding it had happened after the earthquake last year. “It was just supply and demand,” he said.

Members of both groups, tenants and landlords, will end up victims in some cases, and there will no doubt be some desperately difficult stories emerging. In my opinion, however, the claim that houses remain habitable without water and power is unfair. Home owners in such a situation have the option of fleeing the city – why should renters be trapped?

The following piece contains some useful advice:

Row over landlords tossing out quake-hit tenants’ belongings

The rules on earthquake-damaged homes are:

– If the house is earthquake-damaged, tenants can give two days’ notice and then stop paying rent.

– Tenants should first take advice from authorities on whether the house is really uninhabitable or discuss it with the landlord.

– Landlords must give tenants seven days’ notice if the property is earthquake-damaged.

– Landlords should also check with authorities about whether the property is safe. …

Without tenants’ agreement, landlords should not touch their property. “Under no circumstances can landlords go in and shift people out. It’s actually unlawful,” said Helen Gatonyi of the Tenants’ Protection Association. Kim Willems of the Canterbury Property Investors’ Association said even if a house is uninhabitable, landlords are still not entitled to remove tenants’ belongings. “There still is a proper process to go through…”

One ray of sunshine – Bravo Phil Heatley and Housing NZ:

Rent cancelled for 2500 tenants

In what’s believed to be the largest rent suspension by Housing New Zealand, rent has been cancelled for 2500 Christchurch tenants. Housing Minister Phil Heatley says it’s easier to just cancel it outright in 32 suburbs, backdated to February 22, than work out who is affected.

While in the business property market:

Some Christchurch landlords ‘vultures’

Some Christchurch landlords have been labelled opportunistic vultures for ramping up rents for homeless businesses trying to find temporary office space. Hamish Doig of real estate firm Colliers International said rents for some industrial grade properties had doubled amid fierce competition from tenants. Some landlords were demanding to lock in leases of up to six years or even forcing prospective tenants to buy the building to secure space, Mr Doig said. …

Mr Doig said tenants had had the upper hand in a weak leasing market for several years. “Now the landlords, a lot of them, are being opportunistic and saying: `Well, we have gone through pain, now it is our turn’.”

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce spokesman Richard Brewer said he had not heard of price gouging by landlords, “but we would be very disappointed if people are profiteering from what is a very unfortunate set of circumstances. “If people are trying to benefit from this, then that is very poor.”

The Department of Building and Housing page on Tenancy is here including links to mediation and the Tenancy Tribunal. Contact details for tenancy advice and local offices are here. Further legal advice is here. I hope that others will be able to add useful resources in comments…

All of my posts for March will finish with this note. While life goes on as usual outside Christchurch, let our thoughts be with those who are coping with the aftermath, with the sorrow of so many who were lost, and with the challenges ahead.

47 comments on “Christchurch rentals ”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    “Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce spokesman Richard Brewer said he had not heard of price gouging by landlords, “but we would be very disappointed if people are profiteering from what is a very unfortunate set of circumstances. “If people are trying to benefit from this, then that is very poor.”

    Certainly is very tough for businesses wanting to relocate. We have a rent review due for our building at the end of the year, so I shudder to think what our rent might go up to.

    However, it is really just the law of supply and demand in action. If landlords had auctioned their leases on trademe, they would have simply leased to the highest bidder. In a way, that is what is happening now with leases. Some businesses need the space so desperately they are willing to pay a considerable premium to secure the space. Effectively, Landlords are just selling that space to the highest bidder. Can’t really blame them for making hay while the sun shines.

  2. RedLogix 2

    A few years back we got caught up in a bidding war between three tenants all determined to get the place. Arguably we had underpriced … but all the same, was this ‘price-gouging’?

    If a ChCh landlord has several desperate tenants all offering to trump each others’ bids… very easy to put a bad spin on this.

    And bear in mind… very easy to tell tenants to simply stop paying rent because there is no power or water. But will the landlord’s bank accept the same reason to stop paying the mortgage?

    Bear in mind too that power and water are not services provided by the landlord. So long as the building remains potentially connected to these services, it’s not the landlord’s fault that nothing is coming through the lines or pipes.

    All of which emphasises the awful position a LOT of people are going to find themselves in unless the govt steps up and provides a clean path to resolve these tensions.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      But will the landlord’s bank accept the same reason to stop paying the mortgage?

      Wouldn’t that be part of the risk that the bank took when it loaned (well, charged massively for printing the money) out the money?

      • Jenny 2.1.1

        Tenants who can’t pay because they have not been able to return to work or have lost their job. Are at risk of being savaged by their landlord for non-payment of rent. On the other side the landlords may have their life savings in their investment.

        What is needed is for the government to legislate a moratorium on mortgages for all properties inside the Christchurch city limits.

        It won’t cost the government a cent.

        Why shouldn’t the bankers feel a fraction of the pain being felt by those who have lost everything. After all they can afford it, they have been clearing billions in profit out of the country.

      • g says 2.1.2

        dtb, thats close but for a more accurate view try..www.pacificguardian.info
        here you will find some answers for all these people locked into death grip or even credit card debt.
        all money is debt

  3. Peter Hollis 3

    I have the same predicament, I have a customer who requires a product to be uesed in sanitising products. Do I give it away or do I charge a small margin or do I give a gouging price? I am picking a range between a smaller margin and gouging. This is small scale stuff but you think harder about things in times like these.
    Aslo, I have not done price increases for my Chch customers yet, I will give them a months grace before I increase prices. Unfortunately this needs to be done as raw material costs have increased 300% in 12 months.

  4. Christchurch property managers are getting so loaded up with landlords who are too busy sorting their own shit out, that it’s just easier to contract out the mess than to also deal with their investment properties, tenants, EQC, council, insurance, yadda yadda yadda…themselves.

  5. prism 5

    It is a game of two halves – sounds inane but truly the tenants have reasonable needs because of the crisis, and the landlords have real fiscal demands from banks and perhaps the sad case of negative equity because of the drop in value.

    Red Logix refers to tenants scrambling for property and increasing offers.
    Government needs to come in with some guidelines about what is reasonable, and perhaps there should be a time limit so the scramble isn’t sadistically allowed to continue. I think that free mediation should be available promptly to those requesting it. Price-gouging might also be subject to controls. We know the economics for supply and demand and anything can inflate when times are desperate.

    Good post Rob – much needed.

    • Rosy 5.1

      In my son’s case, he was ordered out by the authorities – he’s in the CBD cordon – and the rental agency says he must pay his rent, and cannot break contract. This means of course, that he can’t afford to live anywhere else and he has no personal effects or furnishings.

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        Now I’m no lawyer and plenty of people here are.

        But I would take the position that: a long term police evacuation order for emergency reasons constitutes an “Act of God” allowing the breaking (or suspension) of the contract. Further, the property is no longer able to be lived in legally.

        Therefore I would write a letter to the rental agency saying that the matter is now in dispute and that you are suspending rental payments until such time arbitration via the tenancy tribunal etc concludes what is appropriate. Ask them to initiate the arbitration process if they wish 🙂

        • tsmithfield 5.1.1.1

          Force majeure (includes acts of God) is a standard clause in many contracts. I guess whether there is a clause in the contract allowing an out under those grounds.

          I agree with your recommendation though. Failure to take this action could leave the tenant very vulnerable.

      • ianmac 5.1.2

        Rosy. My youngest son has a flat inside the CBD cordon. The house is red stickered so he phoned the Rental Tribunal who told him his rights. He does not have to pay rent. Even not red stickered it would be doubtful that your son has rent to pay. Ask.

        • Rosy 5.1.2.1

          Thanks, yes he’s making a few phonecalls today. Added stress that no-one needs.

      • Vicky32 5.1.3

        Oh dear, what is he going to do? Something needs to be done for people in his position, it sucks!

        • Rosy 5.1.3.1

          Right now he is putting the rent money aside, but not paying it to the rental company, as he doesn’t trust them to pay it back to him if the decsion is that he doesn’t have to pay. The lack of trust is due to the pressure put on him to pay when the place was cordoned. As for the job, hopefully his company will transfer him, if so he’ll deal with the contract when the state of the place is clearer.

          I would have thought if the place was cordoned the property owner would have dealt with the authorities on the implications of that, not put it back onto the tenant. I accept that there are some good landlords out there, but I don’t think this sort of situation reflects well on the rental industry.

  6. Lanthanide 6

    “Home owners in such a situation have the option of fleeing the city – why should renters be trapped?”

    Sure, home owners can flee the city, but they still have to pay their mortgage. The bank might be nice and give them a 3 month mortgage holiday – which means the interest is capitalised, and if you don’t increase payments in the future to cover it, you’re adding years and tens of thousands of dollars in interest to your total mortgage cost.

    If there were any legal arrangement whereby a tenant could also defer payments for 3 months and have interest charged at ~6% on the outstanding balance and then be required to make up the difference in the future, I’m sure landlords would be fine with it. But there isn’t.

    You’re acting like “landlords” somehow have an unfair advantage over tenants, when really they don’t. In fact it’s really the opposite – if you don’t pay your mortgage and it goes to a mortgagee sale (who is going to be buying in Bexley this time of year?) then any leftover debt survives the sale and you have to pay it off anyway. Renters don’t have this risk.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      You’re acting like “landlords” somehow have an unfair advantage over tenants, when really they don’t. In fact it’s really the opposite – if you don’t pay your mortgage and it goes to a mortgagee sale (who is going to be buying in Bexley this time of year?) then any leftover debt survives the sale and you have to pay it off anyway. Renters don’t have this risk.

      It’s true that landlords bear the financial risks (and benefits) of owning the property. Can’t forget that latter part.

      The risk that tenants bear in a situation like this is not having anywhere to live, not having anywhere livable to live, not having the security of homeownership. These risks are not necessary financial they are personal and social. But they are just as real.

      It is also a given that most tenants are such because they cannot afford their own house and that landlords typically have far greater financial wherewithal than their tenants. There is a power imbalance there.

      However I am not blind to the fact that some landlords are pretty hard up – especially if they have chosen to be highly negatively geared – and that many tenants can be damn unreasonable.

      • RedLogix 6.1.1

        and that many tenants can be damn unreasonable.

        We’ve been lucky.. the good ones have been brilliant. But right now we have two that are causing real headaches.

        One had a serious accident 4 weeks ago and hasn’t paid any rent in that time. He’s made promises but is still mucking us about. I’m not unsympathetic to his position, but the house is still full of his stuff we cannot legally move out, and the official process of dealing with him could take another 90 days. That’s four months rent lost, with only two weeks bond to recover.

        The other is a young mum with her first new baby. Ex-boyfriend caused $2000 of damage to doors and windows trying to break in during an argument, we are about $1200 behind in rent, and although she now has a girlfriend in as a flatmate and is paying rent now…we’ll never recover the loss.

        You try chucking a mum with a 3 month baby onto the street.

        • Jum 6.1.1.1

          “You try chucking a mum with a 3 month baby onto the street.”
          Try putting NAct into that equation RedLogix. It’s called the ‘new working for the DPB’ benefit in 2012.

        • TightyRighty 6.1.1.2

          I love it. You sit in your ivory tower tellinng everyone else how to act and to be grateful that the government takes your money and gives it to bludgers. When it comes to you ands your money,,you sound dangerously like a capitalist

          • RedLogix 6.1.1.2.1

            Yes I once sat in the ‘ivory tower’. (The 7th floor thereof to be exact..) But it was a long time ago. But no…most of my life I’ve been an ordinary working person, doing ordinary jobs, mostly in the private sector.

            I can think of few of the regulars here who are ‘state owns everything, central planning’ communists. Most socialists these days are happy with a ‘mixed economy’ having a place for both the state and for a moderated, regulated market for personal business enterprise.

          • Maynard J 6.1.1.2.2

            …a capitalist would let the market decide whether the mother and three month old baby gets tossed out onto the street.

    • RedLogix 6.2

      Lanth,

      Yes that puts it into a nutshell. Too many times folk on the left indulge in unjustified reflexive landlord bashing.

      I’m not sure where this comes from, but no doubt we inherited a lot of it from the Scottish and Irish experience where monopolistic, absentee slum landlords (even today much of residential Scotland is still owned by very few people) treated tenants very badly. This was reinforced by the intense class inequalities rampant in the UK and made worse by the absentee nature of the contract.

      This is emphatically not the case in this country. The average residential landlord in this country owns 1-2 units, and often knows their tenants very well…dealing face to face with them at least monthly.

      But what too many people fail to realise is the very real risks and responsibilities the landlord is taking on in the business and that it’s not ever a case of ‘money for jam’.

      • felix 6.2.1

        “This is emphatically not the case in this country. The average residential landlord in this country owns 1-2 units, and often knows their tenants very well”

        I assume by “average” you mean median.

        When I lived in Auckland in the 80s and 90s there were 3 or 4 families who between them owned literally thousands of properties around the inner suburbs. Their relationships with the tenants was typically more in line with the Irish and Scottish experience you describe.

        “But what too many people fail to realise is the very real risks and responsibilities the landlord is taking on in the business and that it’s not ever a case of ‘money for jam’.”

        Yes, in the landlord-tenant relationship the landlord assumes the financial risk and reward.

        • prism 6.2.1.1

          felix I believe there is a gap in the assumption of risk and responsibility of a residential landlord. That is to fully insure the house/property. Apparently the law allows landlords to claim against renters for fire and that damage which could be more reasonably counted as repairs and maintenance may result in the bond being used for repairs.

        • Lanthanide 6.2.1.2

          “I assume by “average” you mean median.”

          Ahh yeah, that explains it. I felt uneasy about RL saying “the average landlord” because although I haven’t had too much to do with the rental market, the owners of where I’m living at the moment have about 4 or 5 houses total that they rent out. They don’t seem particularly exceptional in their financial situation. I’ve also read about a person who set up a company to run a rental business and they have 30 houses all in one city somewhere. The mother of a friend of mine in high school was a landlord for her occupation, and owned 8 houses.

          The median (or perhaps even ‘most common’) landlord might own 1 or 2 houses, but I would say that a very large minority, if not majority of tenants live in properties that are owned by landlords that have multiple properties. This logically makes sense and is seen in the business world in NZ – small businesses make up 80% of all businesses, but only employ 20% of all workers.

          • RedLogix 6.2.1.2.1

            Yes there are some landlords who own 50-100 units. They are however a small minority. I’d doubt there are any who own ‘thousands’ .

            From my regular reading around industry sources I’d still say the majority of people live in homes owned by landlords with fewer than 10 units.

            • Lanthanide 6.2.1.2.1.1

              Yeah, but “fewer than 10 units” breaks into some fairly distinct groups in terms of wealth and likely social outlook: 1-2 units, 3-4 units, and 5+ units.

            • Vicky32 6.2.1.2.1.2

              Fewer than 10 could still be 9, and therefore 9 more than anyone in my family will ever be able to afford!
              Except for the one sister who ‘married up’…

              • RedLogix

                If it’s any consolation… we started with zero capital in 2001 and it’s been a hand to mouth battle ever since. You probably live in a nicer house and have a newer car than I do.

                Long term rentals are a ‘get rich slow’ scheme.

      • Vicky32 6.2.2

        My impulse is to say “oh dear how sad never mind!” when I see something like this: “but no doubt we inherited a lot of it from the Scottish and Irish experience where monopolistic, absentee slum landlords (even today much of residential Scotland is still owned by very few people) treated tenants very badly”
        In fact, it makes me spit with anger. Build a bridge and get over it as the Americans would say. I recall a whining landlord with a Scottish name, who was very happy to throw me with a 6 year old son on to the street, because on a DPB I couldn’t pay $250.00 a week rent. (He did, he threw us out with absolutely no recourse on my part, thank God for my brother and Whetu Tirikatene Sullivan, or our only hope would have been foster care for my son, and heaven only knows for me. Maybe he was feeling all this bitterness from his genetic memory, and getting revenge for his poor Scottish ancestors by evicting an English mother and child? Or maybe he was simply a greedy old bastard?)
        Second example – a slumlord who managed a nasty grotty hell-hole of 8 breeze-block flats in Mt Eden. He spent about $1.50 a month on maintenance for each dump.
        An Englishman of course (so bring on the ritual cursing…) Only it developed, as one of the tradesmen he’d hired to do said maintenance revealed to me one day for the price of a cup of tea, that the ‘landlord’ I had abused, was a hired manager. The actual owners were a wealthy family in the South Island, who wanted to spend as little as possible on maintenance, in order to maximise their profit.
        My heart is flinty when it comes to landlords

        • RedLogix 6.2.2.1

          who was very happy to throw me with a 6 year old son on to the street, because on a DPB I couldn’t pay $250.00 a week rent.

          Without knowing the details it’s hard to make a call here. Certainly many reasonable landlords (and most are) will accept a bad run of events that cause a few payments to get behind. Especially if they sense you are genuine and aren’t bullshitting them. But were you expecting him to let you live in his property rent-free indefinitely?

          Because ultimately most properties have a mortgage. When a tenant gets behind on the rent, it’s comes out of my personal income that I earn in my day job. And it’s not peanuts.

          Ultimately most landlords and tenants try to resolve these difficulties face to face and in good faith. It’s the best way. But it takes good-will on both sides, and when that’s been eroded away by bad experiences in the past… things can turn ugly all round very quickly.

          • Vicky32 6.2.2.1.1

            Counting to 10, again and again and again. The words unpleasant and git sprang to mind, but I am rising above, rising above.
            I wasn’t living there rent free, nor was I behind on my rent! This was 1995, and when I had taken the flat in December 1993, the rent was $140.00 a week, which was the norm for the area.
            Then this unpleasant old man informed me that someone at the RSA had informed him that he could get a lot more for the flat than that, because of the Asian influx that Winnie Peters was on about a few years later, as the Asians would pay whatever was asked, as they didn’t know any better. So, this guy had decided to raise the rent by $110.00 a week, starting that week. After all I could “always ask Social Welfare for more money!”.
            I spoke about it to a friend whose landlord had done the same to her, and who as a result was then living with her parents. She informed that tenancy law meant he couldn’t raise the rent without notice, and not by such a whack at once.
            Very well, he informed me, he’d raise it in 6-weekly steps until it reached $250.00 a week. When I refused he gave me 42 days notice, which I managed to get the Tenancy Tribunal to change to 90 days.
            I resent very much your assumption that I was behind in my rent and trying to live rent-free. I would have expected better of you, I am completely disgusted with you, and I am seriously glad not to be a tenant of yours.
            You expect me to feel sorry for this guy cos he couldn’t pay his mortgage? Rubbish! He owned the dump freehold, something he was quite happy to tell me. He tried to say he needed $110.00 extra a week to cover the rates rise, when I followed the news and knew that his rates had increased by about $200 a year! How greedy can anyone get?

            • RedLogix 6.2.2.1.1.1

              I resent very much your assumption that I was behind in my rent and trying to live rent-free. I would have expected better of you, I am completely disgusted with you, and I am seriously glad not to be a tenant of yours.

              Climb down vicky. All you stated about your position was:

              I recall a whining landlord with a Scottish name, who was very happy to throw me with a 6 year old son on to the street, because on a DPB I couldn’t pay $250.00 a week rent

              That leaves a LOT unsaid and a lot of room for unfounded assumptions. Sorry about that. Now you have given us the details it’s clear that the landlord was completely in the wrong. These days the Tenancy Tribunal would eat the bastard for breakfast… there is no way he can rack the rent up on a six weekly basis like that. (The minimum legal review period is generally six months.)

              On the other hand you’ve given no idea what the ‘market rent’ for the property was. These problems often arise when due to slack management, the rent has been allowed to slip way behind where it should be… and creates a lot of aggravation when the landlord belatedly tries to get them back up to where they should be. Personally I’d never do that… I’d simply wait until the tenant moved on… or do it in properly managed annual increments with the legally required notice.

              And again don’t clobber me if I’ve made an assumption… I’m just pointing out that this kind of cock-up is very common and you may have been on the butt end of his bumbling incompetence, rather than malicious greed.

              Note: I’ve re-read your comment above. Seems like rents had been rising rapidly but he managed the situation very badly. That’s the downside of ‘doing it yourself’. Professional property managers like Quinovic for instance tend not to make these amateurish mistakes.

              and I am seriously glad not to be a tenant of yours.

              Well in my original comments above I was simply pointing out that almost all the tenants we have had have been brilliant. They have always left for positive reasons and on good terms. Three have gone on to buy their own homes and we’ve had a few drinkies with them to celebrate and wish them well.

              Two have recently said on leaving that we could charge somewhat more… but we prefer good tenants who are happy to stay long term.

              However the two examples I gave above of recent problems are still ongoing. In both cases we have extended them a great deal of leniency due to their circumstances. Overall it will leave us out of pocket around $4000 over a six month period. Not the end of the world and this sort of thing happens all the time in the industry. Ask any professional property manager. I wasn’t looking sympathy … just pointing out the very real risks landlords have to deal with.

              Now if that still makes you angry then I apologise… it surely was not my intention.

  7. While I support a free-market system with a healthy dose of socialism in there to ensure a certain equality, this is just ratshit behaviour. While Lundy is technically quite right to point out the legalities, have a heart, pal. Some people just can\’t cope and feel that the need to protect themselves and their families and, quite rightly, are baling. Lundy was very quick out of the blocks with his immediate statements and it would be good for him to remember its a lot easier for people in home ownership to bale.

    This is an emotive situation and empathy goes a long way in making decisions. I suggest he tries to understand this before putting the boot in.

    As to price gouging, I haven\’t seen to much yet on the residential side. On the commercial side, it\’s going nuts. Businesses trying to relocate have been slaughtered trying to re-establish themselves elsewhere. The apologists (read: Real Estate Agents) for the industry have been on the radio and have said that the commercial landlords have been doing it tough the past few years. Well heads up, guys: we\’ve all been doing it tough the past few years. And if they think that the way out of this for the country, and Canterbury in particular, is to flay an already battered business community because their cap rates have been at 5% and they haven\’t quite made the money that they wanted, then they really need to take a good hard look at themselves. Great business model, guys! Ruin the only tenants around.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Your sentiments around commercial tenancies make perfect sense. It really does represent a failure of the ‘free market’. Ultimately for both landlords and tenants.

      What is the solution?

  8. A certain amount of government intervention is needed at times.

    In this case, I’m not too sure how to do it without severely impinging on property rights or private liberties. When a monopoly situation generally happens, there are committees/investigations ad nauseum. We don\’t have time for that right now however the prospect of some form of marshal law being extended this far – even under the banner of a National emergency – doesn’t really thrill me either.

    Thoughts anyone?

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      It wouldn’t be martial law but some limitations probably tied into the state of emergency. Something like a price fix and no contracts signed during the emergency and for x months afterward.

  9. ianmac 9

    Wondering about it from a landlords point of view which I am not. If a firm comes wanting to urgently rent space, but just to tide them over, this would leave the landlord with a short-term lease and afterwards empty premises. So would it be unreasonable to seek the renter to have a longer term lease? Especially if the building had to be modified. How long should a lease be? A year, 2 years, 4 years? Not black and white I think.

    • Lanthanide 9.1

      There was an interview with someone on the radio about it this morning, saying they were being told they had to lease a site for 4 years which was a site they would never consider for a period that long.

      I don’t have a particular problem with landlords increasing the price (supply and demand after all, and likely tenants will get into bidding wars for the best properties), but I think setting unrealistically long tenancies is really quite unfair.

  10. prism 10

    When the wide nature of the leaky buildings syndrome was realised eventually government worked out a set of practices to be followed. The Christchurch rental system is in the same category needing more involvement and assistance with procedure as a lot of individuals will be dealing with the same problems, with much stress.

    antispam- planned

  11. JayMal 11

    Home owners in such a situation have the option of fleeing the city – why should renters be trapped?
    Ahhh… no one is saying renters can’t flee the city but they need to keep paying the rent. Just like the home owners have to keep paying the mortgage…

    • Jenny 11.1

      Time for government to impose a moratorium on mortgages in the Greater Christchurch area. A moratorium on mortgages was done by the government during the 1930’s, right across the country, to deal with similar problems.

      • Jenny 11.1.1

        This is such a simple and obvious solution that would provide immediate relief for landlords and tenants and not cost the government a cent. (And as well would keep millions of dollars in circulation in the Christchurch economy, that would otherwise be repatriated to the Aussie owned banks.)

        Why aren’t the opposition Labour Party calling for this?

        Surely the scale of this emergency and the problems out lined in this post calls out for this?

        Are Labour too frightened to confront the banks?

        Labour’s founding leaders had no such qualms about putting their constituency’s needs above that of the banks.

        In their concern for the welfare of the bankers rather than the people of Christchurch, When it comes to this emergency, Labour limply trails behind the government, (in policy and in the polls) becoming in the public mind the do nothing opposition.

  12. G 12

    I heard a horror story yesterday whilst travelling on the bus here in Chch, girl in her 20s, said her landlady, who lives in one of Chchs wealthy suburbs I might add, is still charging her rent, despite her apartment in the cbd being squashed in the Feb 22 quake..this girl is living with her Parents at the moment, I was horrified to learn that such things are happening re people who cannot live in their rented place anymore and are still being charged rent, what the fk is with that??

  13. JayMal 13

    Well I’d say that’s either a incy wincy exaggeration or the landlady is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler and the girl is mad for even considering paying the rent.

    As I understand it the landlord has to provide for the property to be in a habitable state. If it is not no court would compel the renter to pay rent or live in the property. In fact I would guess in the example given the tenancy agreement would be deemed to have ended the day the building collapsed and I’d even guess she’d be entitled to a full refund of her bond.

    The only real issue I am aware of in Christchurch is where the renter and landlord disagree over how habitable a property is. This can be a real problem as the renter might rightly feel it’s unfair to be forced to pay rent in a place with no flushing toilet while the landlord might argue everyone else in the street is living that way and she still has to pay the mortgage on the property.

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