Northland landlord forced to cancel holiday bookings after tenant refuses to move out

Source: 1News

A landlord stung by an experience with a short-term rental wants others to learn from her mistakes.

Families who booked and paid to stay at Michelle Hicks’ holiday home, on Northland’s Karikari Peninsula, have had their plans ruined by a tenant who refuses to move out.

The holiday home - which sleeps 13 and is a short stroll to the beach - has been fully booked out, but they’ve since had to be cancelled.

“What guts me the most [and] really, really upsets me and also the hardest thing to do is to ring these families to say that the Christmas booking they've had booked since July cannot proceed because people won't move out of my house,” Hicks, the homeowner, said.

Hicks lists her short-term rentals on Holiday Houses. In February, she was asked if she would be interested in letting out her holiday home for several more months.

She said she had received a message from a man who explained that he had recently sold their home but wanted to know if she would be interested in a short-term rental, adding that they “wanted to stay in the area from about the end of February for three to four months”.

Hicks agreed to a short-term lease, charging $350 per week for her fully-furnished property.

He instead asked Hicks to accept $300 per week, explaining that “since it's a short-term rental, we don't think there should be any bond to pay".

She notified the man in July that holiday tenants would be coming from December 24, with a pending booking for December 17. Hicks asked the man to prepare "get sorted ASAP" and keep her updated, which the man acknowledged.

“People that are in the situation like I am, they really need to check the law,” Hicks said. “Even though I've given notice, it didn't have my signature on it and an address - that's all that was missing.”

Hicks is using her experience as a warning to other landlords to do everything by the book.

The Property Investors Federation's Andrew King acknowledged that it is "really hard to get rid of a tenant".

"I feel really sorry for this woman because her good nature seems to be taken advantage of, but it does show that yes, the laws are changing; it is getting harder to get rid of tenants,” King said.

Tenants renting a property for 90 days or more come under the Tenancy Act. Hicks did not have a tenancy agreement as the stay was meant to be short-term. Contracts are still recommended for short-term stays. 

“Getting a tenancy agreement's really important - it's the one document that you've got to stipulate everything that's going on there. It's not a fail-proof thing but the better you do your tenancy agreement, the better and, in fact, choosing your tenants,” King said.

A complaint from her tenant will be heard by the Tenancy Tribunal in February.