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Download the Rent arrears - information for landlords information sheet [PDF 222 KB, 3 pages]

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Published in March 2014

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Rent arrears

Information for landlords

When it comes to problems with rent payments, early intervention is the key to sorting it out.  As a landlord, you need to keep good rent records, and monitor them, so you will know if rent starts to fall behind.

When is rent in arrears?

If your tenant’s rent runs out today, it will be in arrears tomorrow. But it will only be one day in arrears, even if your agreement is for rent to be paid two weeks in advance. Rent will be 21 days in arrears in 21 days’ time.  You cannot count rent in advance that has not been paid as rent arrears.

My tenants rent is in arrears - what should I do?

As soon as your tenant’s rent is in arrears, contact them and discuss the situation.  The sooner you talk to the tenant, the sooner the problem can be sorted out.  It may be that there has been a bank error or a misunderstanding about when rent was due. Most tenants don't want to lose their home (or their room in the case of a boarding house tenancy) and are willing to sort something out to get the rent back on track. 

If your tenant cannot pay all the rent due, encourage them to pay what they can rather than miss the whole rent payment.  It may be helpful to come to an agreement with your tenant about how they will pay the arrears and put the agreement in writing. Make sure you and the tenant both sign the agreement and keep a copy.   

It can be much harder to sort out missed rent with a tenant after the tenancy has ended, so keeping the tenancy going is the best way to collect unpaid rent.

What is a 14-day Notice to remedy?

A 14-day Notice to remedy is a letter that alerts the tenant (or landlord) to an issue and gives them 14 days to resolve it.

If your tenant’s rent is in arrears, you should give them a Notice to remedy telling them how much rent is in arrears (and giving them 14 days to pay).  You can find examples of letters you can use to give tenants 14 days to resolve rent arrears, or other breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act (or your Tenancy Agreement), on our website. 

Personally handing the Notice to remedy to the tenant will speed up the process, but if you are not able to do that, you can deliver it to their letterbox or post it (or email it if the tenant has provided an email address as an additional address for service).  Make sure you keep a copy of the letter.

Can I apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for help?

Yes, if your tenant’s rent is less than 21 days in arrears, you need to send your tenant a 14-day Notice to remedy first, alerting them to the rent arrears.  Once you have sent the tenant a Notice to remedy, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal and ask for the arrears to be paid.  You can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal before the Notice to remedy expires.

You can request that the tenancy continues while rent arrears are repaid.  However, you can also request an order is made to:

  • terminate the tenancy if the arrears are not paid
  • release the bond if the arrears are not paid.

If your tenant’s rent is more than 21 days in arrears, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal and ask for the arrears to be paid.  You should do this immediately.  You do not need to send a 14-day Notice to remedy to your tenant.

You can also request the Tribunal issue an order to:

  • terminate the tenancy if the arrears are not paid
  • release the bond if the arrears are not paid.

A landlord of a boarding house can use a termination procedure under section 66U of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 without having to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal.  If the landlord has given at least 10 days’ notice to the tenant requiring rent to be paid, and if the rent remains unpaid within that period, the landlord can then terminate the tenancy on 48 hours further written notice.

How do I apply?

You can apply online at https://secure.dbh.govt.nz/TenancyTribunal/default.aspx and pay the $20.44 application fee with a Visa or MasterCard.

You can also complete a paper application form and send it by:

You must pay the $20.44 application fee before submitting your application.  You can pay at any Westpac branch (by eftpos, cash or cheque) or by eftpos only at selected Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment offices in Auckland, Manukau, Hamilton, Wellington or Christchurch. 

If you have given your tenant a 14-day Notice to remedy, make sure you provide a copy of the notice and include details on the application form, including:

  • when the Notice to remedy expires
  • the date it was served
  • how it was served (for example, by post or by hand).

You also need to provide a copy of your Tenancy Agreement with the application.

Once we have received your application, we will try and resolve the dispute by mediation.  Most mediations take place via the phone.  Make sure you include all contact information you have for yourself and your tenant so we can communicate with you both effectively.

What happens in mediation?

A mediator will help you and your tenant identify the issues and reach a workable solution. 

If the mediation is being held in person you should bring your Tenancy Agreement, rent records, and any other supporting documents to mediation.

Once you and your tenant have reached an agreement, the mediator can write a legally binding and enforceable order to give effect to your settlement (eg, payment for the arrears, termination of the tenancy). You won’t need to go to the Tribunal if you reach an agreement in mediation. For more information about mediation, see our All about mediation page.

What if we don’t reach an agreement in mediation?

If you and your tenant don’t agree to a solution in mediation, your application may go to the Tenancy Tribunal for a hearing.

What if I want to withdraw my Tenancy Tribunal application?

Contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as soon as possible.  Once you have made an application and paid the $20.44 fee, your fee cannot be refunded, even if the problem is sorted out.