I find this story hard to believe.
There may be a few rogue landlords or managers around but they would be totally out numbered by the number rogue tenants. The quicker the Residential Tenancy Act is overhauled to reflect true fairness – or better still abolished all together – the sooner we will have a mature and civilised rental market
Rental agents ‘milking’ tenants
Rental agents in Christchurch’s tight housing market are “milking” vulnerable tenants by charging them to renew their lease, social agencies say.
The practice has been labelled “contentious” and welfare organisations want it banned.
Selina, who did not want her last name used, had been living in her home for more than a year when the lease came up for renewal. This year, however, it came with a price tag: $450 in “letting fees”.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Selina said.
“$450 just for signing a piece of paper? This is taking food out my kids’ mouths.”
Selina’s rent had increased $50 in the last year.
A single mother with four children, she has a fixed income and said riding out the rent increases was “hard enough”.
When the unexpected bill hit she was afraid of losing her home.
Her rental agent would not back down.
With the help of the Mayor’s Welfare Fund, Selina could eventually cover the cost. However, she was already terrified of her next renewal.
“I’m worried I’m gonna be in the same boat next year,” she said.
Letting fees were designed for agents to cover the cost of setting up a new tenancy.
In Christchurch, tenants simply renewing leases are being faced with bills of up to $1000.
By law, letting fees must be a fair and reasonable representation of the cost of re-leasing a home.
There is no cap on the amount charged, but common practice is one week’s rent plus GST.
One rental agent, who wished to remain anonymous, said tenants should not pay renewal fees.
“There’s no admin involved in renewing a tenancy except changing the date in the system,” the agent said.
Tenant’s Protection Agency manager Helen Gatonyi said tenants could approach the tenancy tribunal about renewal fees, but many were afraid of losing their homes if they spoke up.