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COVID -19 Pukeko Updates & Changes To Service

We hope you are surviving the first few days of the 4-week lock-down period. It will come as no surprise that like most businesses, we have made changes to the way we do business during the COVID-19 pandemic. As always, the safety of our people and tenants is paramount while maintaining a high level of service for our landlord customers during this challenging time. 

The purpose of this update is to share the rule changes to the Residential Tenancies Act which came into effect as of yesterday and their impact for property owners.  

Details of the changes are as follows:

    • Rent freeze:  All rents are frozen for a period of 6 months.  
    • Terminating tenancies:  No tenancy can be terminated (except for very limited reasons – see below) during the lockdown period (for up to 3 – months) unless the parties agree.  If a tenant wishes to terminate the tenancy they can do so. Reasons where a landlord application for termination may be considered:
          • Tenant substantially damages the premises.
          • Tenant assaults or threatens to assault the landlord, their family, or the neighbours.
          • Tenant abandons the property.
          • Tenant engages in significant anti-social behaviour (defined as harassment; or any intentional act, if the act reasonably causes significant alarm, distress, or nuisance); or
          • Tenant is 60 days behind in rent, which is increased from 21 days (and the Tribunal will need to consider fairness and whether the tenant is making reasonable efforts to pay the rent).
          • The Tenancy Tribunal will assess on a case by case basis whether the above specific termination grounds are being used appropriately.
  • Tenants who previously received notice: Tenants who have previously been given notice to vacate or who have given notice themselves can now stay in their rental property for the period of the lockdown – if they wish. Where the landlord had a ‘new’ tenant moving in, it’s the landlord's duty to advise the new tenant that the property is no longer available. (We do this for our customers)
  • Fixed term tenancies revert to a periodic tenancy: For a period of 3 months fixed term tenancies which end during the 3-month period will revert to periodic tenancies unless the tenant agrees for this not to happen or both the tenant and landlord agree. There are also some other exceptions but generally speaking – for the next 3 months any fixed term tenancies due to end will revert to periodic tenancies.
  • Applications to Tenancy Tribunal for termination for rent arrears: Previously, after 21 days a landlord could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for termination of a tenancy if the tenant was more than 21 days in rent arrears at the time of the application. This has now changed to 60 days.

For reasons out of our control, unfortunately, these changes make it impossible for us to offer our hugely popular Pukeko Promises during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will review this as soon as things return to normal - or the new normal as the case may be!

Stay safe and please get in touch with your local Pukeko rental Manager if you need help to manage a rental property during this uncertain time. Our team have all the tools they need to still do a great job for our property owners. They already worked from home, and great technology means they are able to keep up to date with rent checks, tenant communications, and even property inspections during the lockdown period. 

If you are not sure what to do next or have questions about these changes and how they impact you, please get in touch - we are here to help if you need us. 

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