Kamis, 14 November 2013

Boarding house residents in the Tribunal

The first applications by residents under the Boarding Houses Act 2012 have started showing up in the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal – and the signs are that the Act's occupancy principles are indeed a welcome measure of justice for residents.

In one case, a former resident (we'll call her 'F') sought the return of her security deposit – the proprietor had kept the lot because F had moved out early. F had initially gotten an order from the Tribunal for its return under the Residential Tenancies Act, but the proprietor got a stay on that order, on the ground that this had been a lodging agreement, so the Act did not apply.

So, with the help of a TAAS advocate, F made out an application under the Boarding Houses Act, arguing that keeping all of the deposit was a penalty – and penalties are prohibited by occupancy principle 3. F and the proprietor came to a mutually acceptable settlement.

In another case, a resident ('G') used occupancy principle 8 – which, amongst other things, limits security deposits to two weeks' occupancy fee – to get a refund of a $100 'key deposit'. This additional impost – sometimes called 'key money' – is an old lurk, long-outlawed in relation to residential tenancies. Now, in G's case, the Tribunal has determined that security for the keys is covered by the two weeks' security deposit, and requiring any additional amounts breaches the limit in OP 8. Order for the refund of the key deposit.

There's nothing extreme about these cases: just good, fair results.