Your rights when renting
We outline your landlords responsibilities and obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act.
Bond, letting fees and rent
Do I have to pay a bond?
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.
What about letting fees?
Letting fees are now illegal. If a landlord or property manager tries charging one, they’re breaking the law.
We moved into our flat two months ago and the landlord already wants to put up the rent. Can they do this?
No. Your landlord can only increase rent once every 12 months (it was previously every six months). They must give at least 60 days’ written notice of a rent increase.
Heating and insulation
Do landlords have to provide heating?
Landlords must provide a form of heating in the living area. From July 2021, new rules kicked in requiring heating in the main living area to be fixed (not portable).
What about insulation?
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.
What standards do landlords have to meet?
From July 2021, private landlords must ensure rentals comply with the following standards within 90 days of any new, or renewed, tenancy:
the property must have one or more fixed heaters that can warm the main living area to 18˚C
the minimum level of ceiling and underfloor insulation must meet the 2008 Building Code or have a minimum thickness of 120mm and be in reasonable condition
kitchens and bathrooms must have extraction fans or rangehoods
where the home has an enclosed subfloor space, a ground moisture barrier must be installed
draughts that make a home harder to heat have to be blocked.
Maintenance and repairs
Who’s responsible for maintenance?
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.
There are rats nesting in the ceiling. Who has to sort that out?
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.
What about smoke alarm batteries? Who has to replace them?
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.
I’ve asked the landlord several times to fix a window broken in a storm. Nothing’s happened. What can I do?
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.
Can I stop paying rent if repairs haven’t been done?
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.
Ending a tenancy
How much notice do I need to give if I want to end a tenancy?
If you have a periodic tenancy agreement – an agreement with no fixed end date – you have to give 28 days’ written notice. Landlords can't give you notice to end the tenancy without a valid reason, such as requiring the property for a family member or selling the house.
If you’re on a fixed-term agreement – say for 12 or 24 months – you can only end it early if the landlord consents. From 11 February 2021, any new or renewed fixed-terms agreements become periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed term. This applies unless:
- you and your landlord agree otherwise
- you give 28 days' notice you want to end the tenancy
- the landlord gives notice under the grounds for ending a periodic tenancy (e.g. the house is needed for a family member or is being sold).
My landlord agreed to end the fixed-term agreement two months early but says I’ll have to pay a $600 fee if I want out. Is this right?
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 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.
The landlord says I have to get the carpets professionally cleaned when I move out. Do I have to pay for this?
No. You must leave the property in a reasonably clean and tidy condition but you’re not required to get the carpets professionally cleaned.
The landlord says we have to move out in three weeks because his daughter wants to live in the house. Can they kick us out like this?
No, that’s illegal. If the landlord’s family member is going to live in the house, you have to be given at least 63 days’ notice. This also applies if the house is required for the landlord's employee.
You have to be given 90 days’ notice if:
- the property is being put on the market
- the property has been sold and the new buyer doesn’t want tenants
- extensive alterations are being done or the house is being demolished.
If you’re on a fixed-term agreement, the landlord can’t give you notice.
What if my landlord isn’t meeting their obligations?
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.
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