If anyone thinks being a landlord is easy, then here’s a story that may change your mind! I was contacted by a landlord who owns a modest two-bedroom rental that is in what was once a tidy part of a town. By all accounts it’s a very pleasant little abode - nice views, a sunny aspect, and plenty of space for the kids to run about. A good little rental, one would have thought, and it was until the Housing Corporation bought the neighbouring properties.
Within a year the area has become a hell-hole and the investor’s nice rental a nightmare. Fortunately the gang that moved into one of the houses has since vacated, but not before the landlord’s previous tenant packed their bags and left his property.Although the gang has gone and the landlord has found a new tenant for his investment, the neighbourhood's all night parties rage on, most nights, and during the day the binge drinking on the front porches can get a bit rowdy, and so too can the burnouts on the shared driveway.
We all understand that nowadays, in the age of sensitivity, one needs to be tolerant and understanding of others, especially when they claim to be victims of colonisation. To date the landlord's new tenant has lived with the parties, yahooing, noisy cars… but it’s the burglaries that have tipped them over the edge - three in recent months.
They no longer feel safe and want out of their fixed term tenancy. Each week they call the landlord with a new reason to be relieved from their tenancy, including a growing list of apparent life-threatening faults with the property – flaking paint on a window sill, and spots of mould in the bathroom. The truth is there is nothing wrong with the property.
The landlord wants to do what’s best for everyone, and has been looking for a solution. Finding a replacement tenant has not been easy - driving past boozy neighbours at 10am in the morning is not a very welcoming introduction to a property.
The landlord has contacted the property managers at Housing Corp a number of times and quoted the rights of his tenant to “quiet enjoyment”, but nothing has changed. It seems the neighbours don’t seem to associate enjoyment with quiet.
He has tried selling his property, but the market value has declined so much in the last year that he is unlikely to clear his mortgage. He even approached Housing Corp asking that they buy his property, but they declined the offer.
He then suggested they rent the property but the nice man from Housing Corp said “the section is too big, and our tenants would not look after it”.
It’s a bad situation that Housing Corp should put right.
No doubt a lawyer would, at great cost, advise our investor to pursue his legal remedies and enforce the “quiet enjoyment” provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act. This is what the Building and Housing website has this to say about quiet enjoyment:
The tenant may not unreasonably interfere with the peace, comfort and privacy of their neighbours… Where the tenant is in breach of their obligations surrounding quiet enjoyment, they can be issued with a notice to remedy. Where this is not complied with, or the breach is so serious that it would be unfair for the tenancy to continue, an application may be made to the Tenancy Tribunal to end the tenancy and compensation may also be sought against the party who committed the breach.
Taking the Housing Corp to the Tribunal is certainly an option that would in the very least force them to focus on the nightmare they have created.
The other option is for the Housing Corp to do the right thing and either buy the property from the landlord or rent it from him. Surely they have it within their capabilities to mow the lawns if their tenants are too busy watching Sky TV to do so!