Dear tenants: This is why your landlord hates you

This article was first published in September 2019.

OPINION: Tenants refusing to pay rent. Taps allowed to leak until floors are destroyed. Houses left with holes punched in the doors, rubbish in the corners and faeces on the floor.

These are just some of the horror stories from landlords who have rented out the homes to the wrong people.

In New Zealand, renting out your property is the traditional way of making sure you avoid living off cat-food in retirement.

And for all the talk about greedy landlords, most are willing to go the extra mile to make sure they keep their good tenants and their property stays in good condition.

But many landlords find they're running into the same problems. Here are five things you could be doing as a tenant that really annoys your landlords. Are you guilty of any of these?

Not paying rent


"Not paying the rent is the biggest problem that landlords face. It is far and away the biggest reason for claims to the Tenancy Tribunal," says NZ Property Investors' Federation executive officer Andrew King.

He says tenants can help by setting up an automatic payment for the rent rather than trying to remember to put the rent in manually.

"Budgeting well so there is always money in their account keeps payments regular and avoids higher bank fees. It is usually better for everyone that rent payments are linked to your pay day," he told Newshub.

"Most landlords will be happy to receive the rent fortnightly if you are paid fortnightly and can organise at the beginning of the tenancy to establish rent payment day on your payday."

Damaging property


The second biggest issue landlords face with their tenants is damaging the property.

"The first bad experience we had was when we gave the management of the property to a real estate agent. They accepted a cheque as bond and allowed a couple and a child to move in," one landlord told Newshub.

"The bond cheque bounced and they paid no rent and stayed in the house for three weeks before the real estate agent could get them out. When we got into the property after they got out, we found the place had been deliberately trashed. Food had just been flung all over the house and the place was pig-sty. They treated it like a compost dump."

But this was just the beginning for this unfortunate landlord. When a solo mother applied to be their tenant in another house, they accepted. It would turn out to be a terrible mistake.

"Another issue we had was in a different house we were managing ourselves. We had a good relationship with a tenant, who was a solo mother - a beneficiary with four kids," the landlord says.

"She was putting posters up around the house, including on the doors. And it wasn't until she moved out that we discovered that the posters were hiding damage. Seven of the eight doors had holes either punched or kicked into them and then hidden behind posters. The doors now need total replacement.

"The insurance company came and looked, but because each kicked or punched door happened on separate occasions an excess applied to each door and we couldn't claim."

Not reporting faults


Sometimes the damage isn't intentional, but comes from indifference.

"There was a leaking tap behind a washing machine. If this had been reported promptly we could have fixed the leak and this wouldn't have caused any damage," another landlord says.

"As it was the leak wasn't reported and by the time we were aware there was a problem there was substantial damage to the flooring, which had to be replaced."

King says to let your landlord know about problems early.

"Your landlord should want to keep the property in good order and fix problems when they occur rather than leaving them to get worse and more expensive to repair," he told Newshub.

"Rather than thinking you are burdening your landlord, they usually appreciate hearing about when things need to be addressed."

Not cleaning it properly


For all the complaints about landlords renting out dirty and mouldy homes, many tenants seem happy to live in their own mess.

"When we have tenants moving in we make sure the place is absolutely spotless. We scrub the showers with a toothbrush," one landlord told Newshub.

"Every time a tenant leaves we've had to go in behind them, and although they have stated they've cleaned the property we've had to redo it."

King says tenants should think of the property as their home and look after it as such.

"If you care about looking after the property, landlords are usually more inclined to be receptive to improving the property or adding new features that you may want," he advises.

"It can also make landlords less likely to consider increasing the rent so much."

Not giving adequate notice


A tenant must give at least 21 days' written notice to end the tenancy, in comparison to the landlord's 90 days' notice.

While most tenants have a fairly good idea of when they're moving out, some ignore courtesy and only give the legal minimum.

"We have one tenant who gave us three weeks' notice just before Christmas. They were moving out the weekend before Christmas, and that was really stressful to try to find new tenants to come and look at the house," Newshub was told by one irate landlord.

"It was a difficult time right before Christmas and we would have appreciated if we had more than three weeks' notice."