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'Don't try DIY evictions'

Landlords wanting to avoid a new $200 charge to get a bailiff to evict tenants may put themselves in danger trying to carry out the process themselves, one property manager says.

Wednesday, May 28th 2014, 12:00AM

by The Landlord

Changes to the civil enforcement system took effect last month.

They are designed to make civil debt enforcement more efficient.

Landlords can now apply to have a court-ordered debt paid at the same time as an eviction warrant is issued. They can also apply for an attachment order – which requires an employer to deduct a specific amount from someone’s salary – without a financial assessment or hearing taking place.

But among the changes is a requirement that the landlord prepay $200 if they want a bailiff to carry out an eviction.

It is intended that they then pass the cost on to the tenant and there is a section in the eviction warrant application form for landlords to request this.

But property manager David Faulker said it was an added upfront cost that was not there previously.

He said it was important to use a bailiff because it was hard to know how a tenant might react. There were often safety concerns.

But now property managers are faced with a bill for $200 before that could happen.

“In an ideal world the property manager will call the owner and explain the situation and the owner will understand the problem and pay $200. The more likely scenario is that the owner who is already under financial pressure will blame the property manager for allowing the tenants to get into arrears and tell the property manager to pay the $200.”

He said it was likely that property managers and landlords would decide to take matters into their own hands. “I believe that many property managers and private landlords will try and save the money. Most property managers I meet are very proud and hardworking people and they may feel they have a responsibility to save the landlord money putting themselves in harm’s way…. A private landlord will likely be inexperienced in dealing with evictions and subsequently they may say the wrong thing that could spark off an ugly incident.”

Some property managers, such as Auckland’s Pedersens Property Management, have said they will absorb the cost of using a bailiff.

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