Property briefs

In response to the Covid pandemic, changes continue to be made around tenancies – both residential and commercial – as well as mortgages and lending.

Healthy homes standards compliance

To accommodate delays arising from the Covid restrictions, the deadline for landlords to provide healthy homes standards compliance statements to their new tenants has been extended by five months.

The healthy homes standards have been introduced to ensure that all rental properties have, for example, adequate heating, insulation and ventilation. As part of the first stages of these standards, you must provide any new tenants or tenants renewing their existing agreement with information on whether your property meets the healthy homes standards. This is called a healthy homes standards compliance statement. Continue reading “Property briefs”

Residential tenancies post-Covid

Some temporary changes

Due to the Covid lockdown and the ensuing impact on the country’s economy, the government has made temporary changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. These changes restrict a landlord’s ability to increase the rent or to end residential tenancies. If you are a landlord, you should read on to ensure you are not inadvertently breaching this temporary law change.

Over the period 26 March 2020 until 25 September 2020, landlords cannot increase the rent for a residential tenancy. This includes any rent increases about which you have already notified to your tenant, but had not taken effect before 26 March 2020. If you try to enforce a rent increase before 25 September 2020 you will be committing an unlawful act.

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Commercial leases post-Covid

Clause 27.5 and inability to access premises

In the past three months, most landlords and tenants would have become more familiar with the details of their lease. In particular, most will be looking at how clause 27.5 of the Auckland District Law Society (ADLS) lease applies to the government-imposed lockdown that we have all experienced as a result of Covid-19.

A bit of background

Following the Christchurch earthquakes, landlords and tenants were not permitted access to leased properties that were inside the ‘red zone’ while investigations into the structural integrity of buildings were being undertaken. In these instances, where the property had not been totally or partially destroyed, the parties were still required to meet their full obligations under their lease even though they were unable to operate from their leased premises.

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Business briefs

Covid-19 can be ‘frustrating’

Covid-19, and the restrictions imposed by the government in an attempt to control it, have deeply affected our lives. However, it’s not just our social lives that have become frustrated. Some businesses and individuals have found themselves party to a contract they can no longer perform due to Covid-19 and the government restrictions. Whether it is an event scheduled during a lockdown that can no longer be held, a customer who you can no longer supply or transport goods to due to travel or border restrictions, or a service you can no longer provide, the ‘doctrine of frustration’ may be able to help.

The courts first recognised the doctrine of frustration in the 1800’s case of Taylor v Caldwell[1] where two parties had a contract to lease a music hall that burnt down before any concerts could be held. The court held that the contract was frustrated and the parties were discharged from their obligations under the contract.

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Government’s Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme

Not a ‘gift’, there are employer obligations

Many New Zealand employers are scrambling to maintain solvency while balancing their employer obligations during the Covid-19 lockdown; thousands of businesses accepted the government’s Covid-19 12-week wage subsidy as a necessary lifeline. The subsidy was not, however, a gift. We take a closer look at employers’ obligations when accepting the wage subsidy.

Not all applications were equal

Obligations imposed on an employer are different depending on when the subsidy application, and the associated declaration, was submitted.

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The Wellbeing Budget 2020: Rebuilding Together

The government’s Budget, presented by the Minister of Finance the Hon Grant Robertson on 14 May has addressed, in the words of the Minister, “a 1-in-100 year health and economic challenge” as it moves to rebuild the economy post-Covid-19.

“With the outbreak of Covid-19, New Zealand now faces a 1-in-100 year health and economic challenge. The pandemic continues to evolve, and it has already caused enormous social and economic disruption. It has required agility on the part of New Zealanders, the Government included,” said the Minister.

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Over the fence

Genuine reasons for fixed-term employment

Fixed-term employment agreements are a useful tool when, as an employer, you do not require a permanent employee but need an employee for a stated period of time, or until the conclusion of a specific project, or for a specified event.

rustlingThe Employment Relations Act 2000 imposes specific requirements that must be complied with for a fixed-term employment agreement to be valid.

You must have ‘genuine reasons’ based on reasonable grounds for making the employment fixed-term.

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Covid-19

Agriculture continues to be the mainstay of our economy

The Covid-19 virus that is sweeping the world has impacted upon us all. The repercussions will differ depending on where you live, what age you are and what you do, but it will be there nonetheless.

The economic impact of the virus remains uncertain but it will be significant. In New Zealand, the immediate effect was on the tourism, hospitality and retail sectors.

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Family protection and wills

The wise and just will-maker

I need to make a will but I do not want to leave my estate to my son as I never see him. I also do not want to leave my estate to my stepchildren. What can be done?

In some parts of the world, a will-maker can leave their assets to whomever they want, whether that be their children, a distant relative or to the local cats’ home. In New Zealand, however, this is currently not the case. Continue reading “Family protection and wills”

Solving relationship property issues by mediation

A cost-effective alternative to court

After separating, you could find yourself at loggerheads with your former partner or spouse on exactly how all property should be divided between you. Negotiations may be bouncing between your lawyers, with no common ground achieved. Without agreement, you could file court proceedings but learn costs would increase dramatically. As well, it could be years before a judge can give a decision on how your property will be divided.

Mediation, on the other hand, could be arranged within weeks. It offers a practical alternative to reach a conclusion on how property should be divided between you and your former partner.

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