COVID-19 Omnibus Bill passes to restrict tenancy terminations, change rules around rent arrears

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Tuesday, 02 November 2021

The Government has passed legislation that can restrict tenancy terminations when people are required to stay at home in accordance with a COVID-19 Public Health Response order.

The Bill is just awaiting Royal Assent, which is imminent, and it will become law a day after it is signed off by the Governor General.

This now means that the restrictions to tenancy terminations can be switched on and off by Ministerial Order (a ‘COVID-19 tenancies order’) in response to public health measures which generally restrict people from moving house.

These restrictions do not currently apply but would likely come into play if Alert Level 4 type restrictions were activated for a particular region.

“Given we’re soon to transition to a the COVID-19 Protection Framework, when the Minister chooses to ‘switch on’ these restrictions may likely be linked to any changes or requirements in a Health Order, for example,” MBIE Senior Engagement  Advisor Raymond Suen told tenancy.co.nz.

Of the changes, one in particular stands out as a throwback to the lockdown rules implemented in 2020.

A landlord will not be able to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to terminate a tenancy if a tenant is 21 days in rent arrears.

Instead, tenants will need to be 60 days in arrears for termination to be granted.

The Tribunal may refuse to make the order if the tenant is making a reasonable effort to pay the rent or, if after balancing the interest of both parties, a termination is found to be unjust.

Other changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, if activated by Minister Order, include:

Article source: https://www.tenancy.co.nz/covid-19-omnibus-bill-passes-to-restrict-tenancy-terminations-change-rules-around-rent-arrears/?fbclid=IwAR0Vgz2PdnI_j5BO8773YBYhfrZIe_wA9MD0R05bKJsCKqkaNyRxalVW0bg

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