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Residential Tenancies Act

In New Zealand, the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 outlines important rights and responsibilities for landlords and tenants (including those in boarding houses). The Act also provides a dispute resolution service by allowing for mediation, and hearings at the Tenancy Tribunal.

To read the Act you can:

An outline of the Act is printed on the back of the Ministry's tenancy agreement, and shown below. It sets out clearly the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords and explains in detail the conditions by which you can end the tenancy and how to do so. (Read it through carefully before you sign the agreement and keep your copy in a safe place).

1. Agreement

Each party should keep a copy of this tenancy agreement. Changes in the particulars of either party must be notified to the other party within 10 working days.

Special rules apply for boarding house tenancy agreements.

2. Address for service

The address for service is a physical street address in New Zealand where notices and other documents relating to the tenancy will be accepted by you, or on your behalf, even after the tenancy has ended. In addition to a physical address, a PO Box, fax number, or email address can be provided to be used as an additional Address for Service.

3. Rent

  • Landlords must not require rent to be paid more than 2 weeks in advance, nor until rent already paid has been used up.
  • 60 days’ written notice must be given for rent increases, or in the case of a boarding house tenancy, 28 days’ written notice.
  • Rent must not be increased within 180 days of the start of the tenancy or the last rent increase.
  • Also, for rent to be increased in a fixed-term tenancy, it must be permitted in the tenancy agreement. 
  • Receipts must be given immediately if rent is paid in cash.
  • When there has been a reduction in rent, a return to the normal rent is not considered a rent increase.

4. Bond

  • A bond is not compulsory, but a landlord may require a bond of up to 4 weeks’ rent.
  • Bonds must be lodged with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment within 23 working days of being paid.
  • In the case of a boarding house tenancy, a boarding house landlord is not required to lodge the bond with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment if the bond is the equivalent to one week’s rent or less.
  • Receipts must be given for bond payments.
  • If the property is sold, the landlord’s rights with regard to the bond pass to the purchaser of the property.
  • The bond covers any damage or loss to the landlord if the tenant’s obligations are not met, but does not cover fair wear and tear.

5. Landlord’s responsibilities

  • Provide and maintain the premises in a reasonable condition.
  • Allow the tenant quiet enjoyment of the premises.
  • Comply with all building, health and safety standards that apply to the premises.
  • Not seize the tenant’s goods for any reason.
  • Deal with any abandoned goods at the end of the tenancy in accordance with the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act
  • Inform the tenant or prospective tenants if the property is on the market for sale.
  • Not interfere with the supply of any services to the premises except where the interference is necessary to avoid danger to any person or to enable maintenance or repairs to be carried out.

If the landlord is in breach of these responsibilities, the tenant(s) can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal.

Special rules apply for landlords responsibilities in boarding house tenancies.

6. Tenant’s responsibilities

  • Pay the rent on time.
  • Keep the premises reasonably clean and tidy, and notify the landlord as soon as any repairs are needed. You may not withhold rent if you cannot get repairs done. Seek advice from the Ministry by calling 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62).
  • Use the premises principally for residential purposes.
  • Pay for outgoings they actually consume or use, such as: electricity, gas, telephone charges and metered water.
  • Not damage or permit damage to the premises. If any damage occurs, the tenant must notify the landlord as soon as possible.,(Any insurance taken out by the landlord is unlikely to cover the tenant’s liability for damage).
  • Not disturb the neighbours or the landlord’s other tenants.
  • Not alter the premises without the landlord’s written consent.
  • Not use the property for any unlawful purpose.
  • Leave the property clean and tidy, and clear of rubbish and possessions at the end of the tenancy.
  • At the end of the tenancy, leave all keys and such things with the landlord. Leave all chattels supplied with the tenancy.
  • If a maximum number of occupants is stated in the tenancy agreement, not exceed that number.

Special rules apply for tenants responsibilities in boarding house tenancies.

7. Rights of entry

The landlord must enter the premises only:

  • with the tenant’s consent freely at the time of entry
  • in an emergency
  • for repairs or maintenance, from 8 am to 7 pm, after 24 hours’ notice
  • for an inspection of the property or work done by the tenant, from 8 am to 7 pm after 48 hours’ notice
  • for an inspection of the property or work done by the tenant, from 8 am to 7 pm after 48 hours’ notice
  • with the tenant’s prior consent, to show the premises to prospective tenants, prospective purchasers, a registered valuer, a real estate agent engaged in appraising, evaluating, or selling or otherwise disposing of the premises, an expert engaged in appraising or evaluating the premises or to a person who is authorised to inspect the premises under any enactment. The tenant cannot unreasonably refuse consent but may attach reasonable conditions to their consent.

Special rules apply for landlord’s right of entry in Boarding House tenancies.

8. Subletting and assignment

If not expressly prohibited by the landlord, the tenant may sublet or assign the tenancy but only with the landlord’s prior written consent. Consent may not be unreasonably withheld unless subletting is totally prohibited by this agreement.

A tenant cannot assign a boarding house tenancy.

9. Locks

Locks can only be changed with the agreement of both the tenant and the landlord. They should be provided and maintained in a secure state by the landlord.

10. Notice to terminate tenancy

(NB: This does not apply to fixed-term tenancies).

  • In all cases, the tenant must give the landlord 21 days’ notice in writing.
  • The landlord may give 42 days’ notice in writing if:

(a) the landlord has an unconditional agreement to sell the premises with vacant possession, or
(b) the premises are required for occupation by theowner or a member of the owner’s family, or
(c) the premises are required for an employee of the landlord if the fact that the landlord customarily uses the premises for occupation by employees is clearly stated in the tenancy agreement

In other cases, the landlord must give 90 days’ written notice.

Special rules apply for notice to terminate a tenancy in Boarding House tenancies.

11. Termination by Tribunal

The landlord may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a termination order where:

  • the rent is 21 days in arrears
  • the tenant has caused or threatened to cause substantial damage to the premises
  • the tenant has assaulted, or threatened to assault, the landlord, a member of the landlord’s family, or a neighbour
  • the tenant has failed to comply with a 14-day Notice to remedy a breach of the tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act.

A tenant may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a work order, compensation or to terminate the tenancy, if the landlord has breached the tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies

12. Mitigation of loss

If one party to the tenancy agreement breaches the tenancy agreement, the other party must take all reasonable steps to limit the damage or loss arising from the breach.