"Under someone else's roof" : tenants' knowledge and experience of tenancy rights in the Manawatu : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Social Policy at Massey University
This thesis examines Manawatu tenants' awareness and knowledge of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, as well as tenants' attitudes and experiences of renting within the private residential market. It is based upon the responses of five tenants, four housing workers and two government housing officials to questions asked in semi-structured interviews. The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 has been in force for ten years, but are tenants any the wiser? This is a particularly important question, given changes in housing policies and the state's withdrawal from the direct provision of housing assistance as it looks to the private rental market to pick up the slack. The findings reported in this study indicate: that tenants, in the main, conducted their rental affairs from a position of ignorance; and that those tenants who were uncertain about their rights and obligations were reluctant to seek advice on tenancy matters, or to pursue any formal line of complaint in case they faced eviction. If tenants expect to receive fair and non-discriminatory treatment in their relationship with private landlords, they need at the very least to be aware not only of tenancy law, but their rights and obligations therein. Therefore, the dynamics and tensions that exist between tenants' knowledge of the law and their relationship with private landlords, fee-paying letting agencies and state functionaries, form a central part of this thesis.