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Fixing Tenancy Problems

Fixing Tenancy Problems

Where you have a dispute with your landlord or flatmate, it’s generally best to sit down and talk with them about the issue.  If you still can’t agree, you might have to go to mediation or even the Tribunal.

This section is about the legal processes involved in fixing tenancy problems.

What should I do if I have a dispute with my landlord?

Usually, the best thing to do when there are problems is to talk to your landlord and try to work out the problem between yourselves first. Note that you’re not allowed to stop paying rent just because there is a problem with the property.

What happens if I can’t resolve the problem with my landlord?

If you can’t resolve things with your landlord, you might want to try the Tenancy Tribunal. The Tenancy Tribunal deals with disputes between tenants and landlords. You have to make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal if you want their help in resolving your dispute with your landlord. After filling in the application form, Tenancy services will be in contact and request that you try out their mediation services first. If mediation doesn’t work, then you will be sent to the Tribunal and a Tribunal adjudicator (like a judge) can decide the matter for you. It costs $20.44 to make an application. The easiest way to apply is to use the online application form.

What is a tenancy mediation?

The mediation service offered by the Tenancy Services is a process where you can discuss a problem with your landlord with the help of an independent mediator. The MBIE’s mediation service usually happens over the phone, but can be face-to-face in more complicated disputes. At mediation, you and your landlord should try to reach an agreement between yourselves about how to resolve the problem you have.

If you come to an agreement during the process, the mediator usually writes down the outcome as a “mediated order.”  A “mediated order” is legal. If you can’t agree at mediation, the matter can be passed on to the Tenancy Tribunal for a hearing.

What is the Tenancy Tribunal and how does it work?

The Tenancy Tribunal is a court for settling disputes between landlords and tenants. Generally, you’re not allowed a lawyer in the Tenancy Tribunal unless your case is complex.

At the hearing, a tenancy adjudicator will listen to both you and your landlord and make a judgment which both parties have to follow.  This order could include:

  • Possession orders: the tenancy is ended and you have to move out;
  • Monetary orders: either you or your landlord has to pay money to the other person for things like rent or reimbursement for repairs;
  • Work orders: you or your landlord should do work to remedy any damage.

How do I resolve disputes with flatmates?

Sometimes you have disputes about your living situation with your flatmates rather than with your landlord. These are general civil disputes, and can’t be dealt with through the Tenancy Tribunal. If you can’t solve the problem by talking to your flatmate, you could try private mediation or take the dispute to the Disputes Tribunal.

Where can I get help for tenancy matters?

For more help, the Tenancy Service website provides information sheets, application forms and templates of letters and tenancy agreements. The website also has a free advice line: 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

If you’re under 25 you can contact us at YouthLaw for advice about your situation. Otherwise, you can get in touch with your local Community Law Centre.

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