New Zealand Law Society - Landlord ordered to repay thousands in bonds he failed to lodge

Landlord ordered to repay thousands in bonds he failed to lodge

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An Invercargill landlord has been ordered to pay $38,713 in exemplary damages and costs for failing to lodge bonds.

The Tenancy Tribunal found Strathvale Investments Ltd (SIL) and sole director Murray Baird received bond monies from tenants for 54 separate tenancies, which he did not forward to the Tenancy Services’ Bond Centre.

“Under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) landlords must lodge any bond monies with Tenancy Services within 23 working days of receipt,” says National Manager Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Steve Watson.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise’s Tenancy Compliance and Investigations team investigated a complaint from a tenant who didn’t receive a bond lodgment receipt for a property rented to them by Mr Baird.

“Our investigation found non-compliance with the bond requirements of the RTA across Mr Baird’s entire portfolio of residential properties, prompting MBIE to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal.

“The Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team was given greater powers to prosecute landlords through the July 2016 amendments to the RTA. This case is another powerful example of how we are using these powers to ensure landlords who seriously breach basic housing standards are held to account,” adds Mr Watson.

Further to the $38,713 awarded by the Tribunal, SIL is restrained from committing further similar breaches of the RTA for a period of five years.

“As a result of securing this order, should Mr Baird be found doing this again we will not hesitate in pursuing criminal charges in the District Court.

“The proper handling of bonds is an integral part of maintaining trust in the tenancy system, as well as ensuring the rights of tenants are protected. Mr Baird’s actions broke that trust 54 times for personal gain, and his repeated and persistent breach of the RTA is unacceptable and reflected in the high damages cost awarded,” says Mr Watson.

“This decision should send a strong message to landlords that there is no excuse for not complying with tenancy law, and the penalties for not doing so are high.”