We answer common questions about your rights as a renter.
What you need to know about your rights as a renter.
It’s the landlord’s choice whether they charge a bond but most do. You have to pay the bond if one’s charged. The maximum amount is four weeks’ rent.
Once you’ve paid, the landlord must give you a receipt and pay the bond money to Tenancy Services within 23 working days.
Letting fees are now illegal. If a landlord or property manager tries charging one, they’re breaking the law.
No. Your landlord can only increase rent after the first 180 days of a tenancy. They must give at least 60 days’ written notice of a rent increase.
Landlords must provide a form of heating in living areas. However, the law doesn’t state what type must be supplied. In practice, a cheap electric heater may be considered adequate.
If there is fixed heating in your rental, your landlord is responsible for maintaining it. For example, if you have a fireplace, the landlord must ensure regular maintenance and checks are carried out.
Since July 2019, rentals have been required to have ceiling and underfloor insulation (where it’s practicable to install).
The tenancy agreement must include a statement outlining the property’s level of insulation.
The landlord must keep the property in a reasonable state. This includes fixing leaks, busted guttering, or broken windows and doors.
As a tenant, you’re responsible for keeping the home reasonably clean and tidy, and not causing or allowing damage to the property. You must also let the landlord know if repairs are needed.
Your landlord is responsible for making sure the property is pest-free, which means sorting out rats living in the ceiling.
You have a responsibility as the tenant to keep the house in a condition that doesn’t encourage vermin. You also need to let your landlord know when there’s a pest problem.
While your landlord must ensure the house has working smoke alarms, you’re responsible for changing the batteries (if the alarm has replaceable batteries). You also need to let the landlord know if a smoke alarm is broken.
Smoke alarms must be within three metres of each bedroom door, or in every room where a person sleeps.
If the repair is urgent, or the broken window is dangerous, you can get it fixed and ask the landlord to reimburse you. As long as you’ve made reasonable efforts to advise them of the problem, they have to foot the bill. Take photos and keep paperwork as evidence of what’s been done.
What if the problem isn’t urgent? You can issue your landlord with a 14-day notice to fix (sample notices can be found at tenancy.govt.nz). If the window hasn’t been fixed within that time, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a work order requiring the landlord to repair the damage.
Unfortunately, no. However, the Tenancy Tribunal can order a landlord to reduce your rent until repairs are completed. The landlord can also be required to pay you compensation.
It depends on the type of tenancy. If you have a periodic tenancy agreement – an agreement with no fixed end date – you have to give 21 days’ written notice.
If you’re on a fixed-term agreement – say for 12 or 24 months – the agreement finishes at the end of this term. You can only end it early if the landlord consents.
Landlords can charge a break fee when a fixed-term contract is ended early. However, they can’t just charge what they like. Any fee must be limited to the reasonable costs they’ve incurred.
You’re entitled to ask for a breakdown of the charges and can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a determination of the costs you’re required to pay.
No fees can be charged to end a periodic tenancy.
No. You must leave the property in a reasonably clean and tidy condition but you’re not required to get the carpets professionally cleaned.
No, that’s illegal. If the landlord’s family member is going to live in the house, you have to be given at least 42 days’ notice.
You also have to be given 42 days’ notice if the house has been sold and the new buyer doesn’t want tenants, or the property is needed for an employee.
Otherwise, the landlord must give you at least 90 days' written notice to end the tenancy.
If you’re on a fixed-term agreement, the landlord can’t give you notice.
If you’re having a problem with your landlord, you can call Tenancy Services for advice – 0800 836 262 (0800 Tenancy).
Consumer NZ members can also call our expert advisers for help on what to do if a landlord isn’t meeting their obligations under tenancy law.
New rules are coming to make rental properties warmer and drier.
From July 2021, private landlords must ensure their rentals comply with the following standards within 90 days of any new, or renewed, tenancy:
Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act to improve protection for renters are also being considered.
Key changes we want to see include regulation of property managers. Our research has found tenants who rent through a property management company are more likely to get a raw deal.
We also want to see rules preventing landlords from ending tenancies without cause. Our survey research found fear of losing their home was one of the main reasons why renters didn’t complain about problems.
For more information about the fixes we want in the rental market, read our report.
This report is free thanks to funding from the Ministry of Health.
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