Landlord who provided ‘life advice’ punished

A landlord who provided “unrequested and unwanted life advice” has been ordered to pay her tenant $1530 in damages.

Tenancy Tribunal Adjudicator Bernadine Hannan said landlord Christina Liu, who rented her Mt Eden Rd property in central Auckland out as a boarding house, gave the advice as part of an increasingly tense tenancy between herself and Jianing Liu that ended in April.

Hannan said Jianing Liu “reacted strongly” to Christina Liu’s life advice, which the adjudicator termed “criticism”.

“The respondent admits in her own evidence that she has offered unrequested and unwanted life advice to the respondent.

“I accept the applicant [Jianing Liu] may not have responded as the respondent [Christina Liu] would have wished.”

Hannan penalised Christina Liu $1530, including $1000 for breaching her tenant’s quiet enjoyment of the property.

“I encourage the respondent to determine how she wishes to rent this property and to acquaint herself with her legal obligations before she does it again.”

David Faulkner, director of property management consultancy Real IQ, said landlords sometimes unwittingly fell foul of the law during a tenancy because they didn’t understand they had obligations beyond simply renting out a space.

In a case last year Tenancy Tribunal adjudicator Jennifer Binns levelled a $1000 penalty against Shane Beverley and Peggy McConnell, who terminated a family’s tenancy because they believed the apartment wasn’t a suitable living space to raise two 11-month old girls.

Beverly and McConnell wrote in their note to tenant Joanne Birnie: “The time has come where you need to find somewhere more appropriate to rear two growing girls”.

Faulkner said landlords often did not understand they had to comply with a number of pieces of legislation including both the Residential Tenancies Act and the Human Rights Act.

“If you are a landlord you are a business owner and if you own a business you have to understand your product, what you are offering and understand the legislation that impacts you.

“In terms of being a landlord, it goes far beyond the Residential Tenancies Act.”

He said pieces of legislation landlords were subject to included the privacy act, building laws, health and safety legislation, local council bylaws,and consumer law.

Property managers too could open themselves up to liability by following a landlord’s instructions, Faulkner said.

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