When friends, family and The Residential Tenancies Act don’t mix!

We get it — there’s a lot to read and understand when it comes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). While it’s incredibly important that Property Owners are up to date with legislation, it is also our job  at Copo to understand it and ensure your property is compliant.

Recently, a Copo Property Manager received a call from a private landlord in Auckland who was seeking advice about a situation. The landlord’s property had been in his family all his life — he’d actually grown up in it! As the current owner, he made the decision to rent it out and in 2019 the property was filled by tenants who he knew personally. An agreement was drawn up and signed by both the tenants and landlord – it was a periodic tenancy that included an unenforceable clause to say either party could give four weeks notice to vacate the property.  Everyone was friends at the start, so they didn’t worry about the nitty gritty of the Residential Tenancies Act. 

Fast forward to 2021, the landlord informed the tenants that he was wanting to sell the property and gave them four weeks’ written notice. Upon this, the tenants came back to the landlord saying they had sought professional advice and that he needed to give 90 days notice — to which they were right. 

This was the problem: while a landlord can contract out of the RTA and accept less notice from a tenant than is the minimum, contractually a tenant must receive the minimum notice period to vacate that the Residential Tenancy Act allows, regardless of any previous arrangements with the landlord. Even though both parties had signed a mutual agreement, if it is not a permitted clause in the RTA then it has no value and cannot be enforced. Ultimately, the agreement was superseded by the RTA.

Property and tenancy legislation can be tricky to navigate, which is why it is beneficial to work with a property manager who understands it inside out — it’s literally our job! As a property owner working with Copo, you’re referred to as a ‘Business Partner’ and you’re treated like one. It’s not just your legal obligations that we uphold and assist with, but also your investment strategy, and your responsibilities. If you’ve got your eye on a property that you’re considering purchasing, or you have an investment property or portfolio, call us for a chat — we’d love to help.