last updated 31/05/2021
LATEST – Lease dispute mediation scheme still available
last updated 31/05/2021
11 May 2021 – The Ministry of Justice has advised that the Dispute Resolution Scheme aimed at helping resolve commercial lease disputes arising from Covid-19 is still available, but that eligibility will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The Dispute Resolution Scheme was created by the Government to help landlords and tenants resolve disputes caused by last year’s lockdown periods through subsidising arbitration or mediation up to $6,000. This was sometimes enough to fully cover the costs of simple disputes. However, the Scheme was closed to new applications at the end of March 2021, despite the fact that the problems still existed and the initially-allocated budget had not yet been exhausted - see previous article.
Following some tenacious lobbying by various organisations, lawyer Paul Turner of Goodwin Turner Lawyers has now been advised that eligible matters will still be considered for the Scheme, but that eligibility will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
‘It means that the scheme isn’t fully closed, and that tenants and landlords can potentially still benefit from it,’ says Paul. ‘However, because it’s now on a case-by-case basis, they will have first to apply for approval via a self-declaration form to see if they are eligible.’
Although the scheme remains open for now, the Minister of Justice, Hon Kris Faafoi, has commented that the take up of the service has been low, suggesting there is little demand to extend it. He says that Cabinet is due to consider the future of the scheme in the coming months.
The eligibility criteria can be viewed at https://www.justice.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Publications/COVID-19-Commercial-Lease-Disputes-Services-Full-Eligibility-Criteria.pdf
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