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Know your tenancy rights during COVID-19

Photo: File.

Tenants who are unsure of their rights during the COVID-19 pandemic are being urged to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Tauranga Bureau manager Kim Saunders says they have received many enquiries from renters in relation to COVID-19 Alert, highlighting a range of issues.

“For example, we had tenants who suddenly have no income but still have to pay rent and all of their other expenses.

“We have also heard about flatting situations where it seemed impossible to remove an unwanted flatmate during the lockdown.

“Government measures to help renters include a rent increase freeze that is in place until late September and a ban on tenancy terminations (except where the tenant agrees to it) that is in place until late June.

“In many cases though, it’s up to the tenant and their landlord to discuss the issue in good faith and try to agree on a solution that suits both parties. This is especially the case if the tenant experiences a significant drop in income or loses a flatmate who previously contributed to the rent. 

“It’s useful to know that if your income has reduced it is worth checking whether you are eligible for an accommodation supplement from Work and Income. We can help you know what your options are for resolving the matter.

“It’s important to know that tenancy law does not cover flatmates whose names are not on the tenancy agreement, private boarders, or tenancies where one of the tenants is a family member of the landlord.
“In these situations the rights of the parties involved depend on what’s in the flatting or house sharing agreement and any disputes can be dealt with in the Disputes Tribunal.

“Although you can’t come and see us right now, we are available by phone: 07 578 1592 and email: tauranga@cab.org.nz 

You can also call our nationwide freephone: 0800 367 222 or use online chat.

“We also have great information about tenancy rights on our website, including up to date information about COVID-19 related issues”.

Citizens Advice Bureau is an independent community organisation offering a free, confidential and independent service of information, assistance and referral from 83 locations stretching from Northland to Invercargill.

Last year volunteers received around 500,000 enquiries on issues ranging from electricity, immigration, housing and employment to consumer rights, health and family.
 

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