21 Jul 2010

Inaction on letting fees upsets tenants supporters

5:39 pm on 21 July 2010

Supporters of tenants' rights are disappointed that an overhaul of tenancy laws did not result in the demise of agency letting fees.

Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act were adopted by Parliament on Tuesday night - the first of their sort in 24 years.

The Tenants' Protection Association in Christchurch lobbied the Government to ban letting fees, which are payable when landlords use agencies to list their property.

The fees typically amount to a week's rent and are charged to the incoming tenant.

The association says the fees should fall on landlords because they are the ones who contract the letting agency's services.

But one of the amendments will mean tenants who harass their neighbours could be liable for a fine of $2000.

The changes have been welcomed by the Property Investors Federation, which represents more than 7000 landlords.

Federation president Martin Evans says he is pleased there has been clarification about what happens at the end of a fixed-term tenancy.

Mr Evans says other changes make it easier for landlords to dispose of possessions left behind by departing tenants.