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Mediation and Tenancy Tribunal hearings frequently asked questions

On this page

  1. Do I have to attend mediation?
  2. What happens if I don’t turn up to a Tenancy Tribunal hearing?
  3. How do I serve notices or documents on my tenant or landlord?
  4. Important note for landlords: address for service requirements when a tenancy has ended.
  5. How do I file an application for an order of the Tenancy Tribunal?
  6. How can I enforce a Tenancy Tribunal or mediator’s order?

1. Do I have to attend mediation?

Attending mediation is not compulsory.

Attending mediation gives you and your tenant or landlord an opportunity to talk through your problem and to work out a solution that suits you both.

If you can agree to a solution, the mediator can write down what has been agreed as a mediator’s order. Mediator’s orders can be enforced through the Court system.

Most problems are sorted out at mediation, but if you don’t reach an agreement there the next step is to go to the Tenancy Tribunal for a hearing. The Tribunal is part of the Justice system and an adjudicator will make a final decision for you both.

In some cases it isn’t appropriate to hold a mediation or it’s not possible to bring the tenant and landlord together. When this happens the application is sent to the Tenancy Tribunal for a Court hearing.

For more information see the mediation section »

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2. What happens if I don’t turn up to a Tenancy Tribunal hearing?

If the applicant does not turn up to a Tenancy Tribunal hearing and does not contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment or the Tenancy Tribunal Clerk with a good reason to reschedule, the case may still be heard in their absence, adjourned or even dismissed and costs may be awarded against the applicant for wasting Court time.

If the other party does not appear, their view will not be heard and the Tribunal will still be able to make an order, which means the tenancy may be terminated in their absence or they may have to pay money to the other party.

If neither party appears, the Tribunal would only determine the matter if it was satisfied it had all the written information it needed to do so.

As long as the applicant turns up to the Tenancy Tribunal hearing, an order will be made, even if the other party does not appear. It is in the other party’s interest to attend a Tenancy Tribunal hearing in order to defend themselves against claims made against them, as orders made by the Tenancy Tribunal are enforceable.

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3. How do I serve notices or documents on my tenant or landlord?

The time when notices are deemed to be given will depend on how they are delivered.

In general, if the notice or document is personally served (i.e. handed to the tenant or landlord), it is served immediately.

If it is delivered to the premises to which any address for service relates, and either left in the letter box or attached to the door of the property in a prominent position, it is served 2 working days after the date on which it was delivered.

If it is properly addressed and posted to the address or the Post Office Box given as an address for service, it is deemed to have been served on 4 working days after the date on which it was posted.

If it was transmitted to a facsimile number given as an additional address for service after 5pm, it is considered to have been served on the next working day after it was transmitted. If the fax was sent before 5pm it shall be deemed to be served on that day.

If it was emailed to an email address given as an additional address for service after 5pm, it is considered to have been served on the next working day after it was transmitted.  If the email was sent before 5pm it shall be deemed to be served on that day.

These timeframes apply unless the person being served notice has evidence to the contrary – for example, the recipient provides evidence that the email was delayed or not received.

Note: The notice period does not start until the day after the notice is deemed to be served.

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4. Important note for landlords: address for service requirements when a tenancy has ended

If the tenancy has ended and the landlord is making a Tenancy Tribunal application, it is important to provide an address for service for the tenant so that they can be served with notices of mediations and Tenancy Tribunal hearings. If they cannot be served with these notices, then the Tribunal may not be able to hear the matter.

If you are applying within 2 months after the tenancy has ended, you can use the tenants address for service written on the tenancy agreement.

If you are applying more than 2 months after the tenancy has ended, you cannot use the address for service written on the tenancy agreement.

When applying more than 2 months after the tenancy has ended, so that notices of mediations and Tenancy Tribunal hearings can be served on the tenant, you will need to provide:

  • a new contact address for the tenant, which was given to you in writing by the tenant within 2 months before you made the Tribunal application; or
  • a physical address where the tenant now lives, or where notice can be served on the tenant personally; or
  • the name and address of a solicitor or an agent that the tenant has authorised to receive service on their behalf.

See our information sheet ‘What to do when you don’t have the other party’s address for service’ .

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5. How do I file an application for an order of the Tenancy Tribunal?

Applications to the Tenancy Tribunal are made by filing an Application for Order of the Tenancy Tribunal form. Filing the application form starts the legal process for resolving disputes between the landlord and the tenant.

Check out the information sheets for landlords and tenants called Making an application for an Order of the Tenancy Tribunal for more information about how to make an application to the Tribunal and what information you need to provide when applying.

An application fee of $20.44 must be paid for each application. A photocopy of the tenancy agreement should accompany the application form. If a 14 day Notice to remedy has been served, photocopies should also be attached.

If rent is involved in the application, a summary of rent from the start of the tenancy must be completed and attached to the application form. Bank statements are not sufficient but should be brought to the mediation or hearing as supporting evidence if required.

The application form should be fully completed. The Tenancy Tribunal can only hear the issues raised on the application form so everything that is to be addressed and all of those things that the applicant would like the Tribunal to order should be mentioned on the application form. If there is not sufficient room on the form, additional pages can be attached to the application form but should be noted on the application form.

The name and address for service of the applicant and the other party need to be listed on the application form. Where there is more than one tenant or landlord, or the property is being managed on behalf of the owner, all of the tenants and landlords may be named on the application, and the name of the property owner should be included on the application. If the property is managed by a real estate agency, the name of the company should be written on the application rather than the franchise name. This will help to avoid difficulties with enforcement when the order has been made.

For help filling out the application form, contact us for advice on 0800 83 62 62.

See the Tenancy Tribunal section for more information.

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6. How can I enforce a Tenancy Tribunal or mediator’s order?

The Tenancy Tribunal must first seal a mediator’s order before it can be enforced. The Tribunal can only seal orders within 6 months of them becoming final orders. Once sealed, they are effectively Tenancy Tribunal orders.

A Tenancy Tribunal order can be enforced by a private debt collector or by the Ministry of Justice Collections Unit.

You can claim reasonable expenses or commission incurred in recovering a debt as part of a cost claim, if this condition is provided for in your tenancy agreement.

The Tribunal may make an Order giving effect to any clause in a tenancy agreement requiring the other party (debtor) to reimburse the creditor for any reasonable expenses or commission incurred by the creditor in recovering or attempting to recover a debt that the Tenancy Tribunal has ordered the debtor to pay.

To have an order enforced through the Collections Unit, a current address for the debtor must be supplied. If their whereabouts is unknown the Ministry's Compliance Unit may be able to locate one.

See the enforcement of orders section for more information.

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