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Tenancy Tribunal

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The Tenancy Tribunal is a special Court for making decisions about problems that landlords and tenants have been unable to settle themselves. It is a part of the Justice system.

A landlord or a tenant wishing to make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal will be charged a fee of $20.44 (including GST).

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.

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Who can go to the Tribunal hearing?

It is a public hearing and either party may take support people with them. Parties normally represent themselves and it is unusual for parties to be represented by lawyers.

There are some special cases where a lawyer would be allowed. These are where:

  • the dispute is for more than $6,000
  • the other side agrees or the Tribunal allows it.
  • If one party has a lawyer representing them, the other party may also be represented by a lawyer.

The Tribunal may also allow you to be represented by a lawyer if they consider it appropriate due to:

  • The nature and complexity of the issue involved; or
  • Any significant disparity between the parties affecting their ability to represent their case.

In some cases, a representative can appear for a party. If you think you may need one, you should talk this over with Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment before the hearing.

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What happens at the hearing?

A tenancy adjudicator listens to each person, hears any witnesses and evidence either side wants considered, and then makes a decision according to the Residential Tenancies Act.

The adjudicator produces their decision as a Tribunal order. The landlord and the tenant are each given a copy. The adjudicator’s decision is a Court order that both sides have to obey.

These orders are public information and are published on www.tenancytribunal.govt.nzTenancy Tribunal website. and available from the District Court where the hearing took place.

In most cases, if the decision is simple and straightforward, the parties will receive the decision immediately after the hearing. Otherwise, the decision has to be written up by an adjudicator and posted out at a later date.

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What kinds of orders can be made at the Tenancy Tribunal?

The Tenancy Tribunal can award compensation or order work to be done up to a value of $50,000. Where claims are for more than this they can be filed through the District Court.

There are a variety of orders that can be made, but the most common are possession orders, monetary orders and work orders. (Any order the Tenancy Tribunal can make can also be made in mediation).

Possession order

This involves the termination of the tenancy. If the tenant does not fulfill their legal obligations and the situation is serious enough, the landlord can apply to have the tenant evicted from the property. This can happen if the tenant is:

  • more than 21 days behind in the rent
  • substantially damaging the property or threatening to do so
  • assaulting the landlord or the landlord’s family or agent, other tenants or neighbours, or threatening assault
  • breaking the tenancy agreement, when the landlord has given at least 14 days’ notice to put matters right and the tenant has not.

If a landlord has given a tenant a 14 days’ notice to get rent paid up to date, and by the time the case is heard in mediation or by the Tenancy Tribunal the rent is 21 days or more in arrears, the matter will be treated as a serious breach.

Monetary order

This is an order that a landlord or tenant must pay money to the other party. For example:

  • payment of rent arrears or refund of overpaid rent
  • payment for damage, cleaning, gardening or rubbish removal
  • reimbursement of costs, such as urgent repairs
  • payment of exemplary damages (this is something like a fine) for legal breaches such as not paying the bond to Ministry of Business, Innovaton and Employment, seizing a tenant’s goods or denying legal access
  • payment of compensation for loss of goods or loss of use through poor repair.

Work order

Orders may be agreed to, or made by the Tenancy Tribunal, that a person must do work to remedy damage, lack of repair or maintenance. If the work order is not complied with by that person, then the person may be ordered to pay money instead.

Alternative orders

An agreement or order can say what will happen if the order is not complied with. For example, an order for the return of goods can require monetary payment if the goods are not returned. The person in whose favour the order is made decides whether it will be enforced.

Agreed attachment order

If the Tribunal hearing is about money owed, a landlord and tenant can agree (at the Tribunal hearing) that the debt can be enforced by an attachment order. An attachment order is where payments are deducted directly from the wages or benefit of the person who owes the money. This agreed attachment order is recorded in the Tribunal Order.

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Appeals against decisions of the Tenancy Tribunal

Any party to proceedings before the Tenancy Tribunal and who is dissatisfied with the decision can appeal to the District Court.  There are some cases where there will be no right to appeal, for example if the amount of the claim is less than $1000.00 (s117(2) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986). The District Courts Fees Regulations have been amended and from 1 July 2013 filing fees ($200) and hearing fees ($900 after the first half day) are now payable for appeals from the Tenancy Tribunal to the District Court.

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More information 

Download these information sheets or forms: