Who is a tenant?
  • A tenant is a person who rents a property from a landlord. There should be a written tenancy agreement which is signed by both the landlord and the tenant. More than one tenant can sign the tenancy agreement making them co-tenants. If one person signs the tenancy agreement and sublets to other flatmates, they are called the head tenant.
  • A head tenant is solely responsible for making sure the rent is paid, the property looked after, and for dealing with the landlord on any issues that may arise.
  • A head tenant is solely responsible for making sure the rent is paid, the property looked after, and for dealing with the landlord on any issues that may arise.
  • Co-tenants are jointly and individually responsible for making sure the rent is paid and the property looked after. This means the landlord can recover any debt occurring from the tenancy against all or one of the tenants
  • What are tenant's responsibilities?
    • to pay the rent
    • to keep the house or flat reasonably clean and tidy
    • to let the landlord know as soon as damage is discovered or repairs needed
    • to leave when the tenancy is terminated
    • to leave the house or flat reasonably clean and tidy and remove all rubbish at the end of the tenancy

    to return the keys to the landlord at the end of the tenancy.

  • What is a tenant not allowed to do?
    • intentionally or carelessly damage the house or flat
    • use the house or flat for unlawful purposes, for example prostitution or selling drugs
    • disturb the neighbours, for example by being too noisy
    • have living in the flat or house more than the number of people specified in the tenancy agreement.
  • Is a tenant responsible for damage done by friends or visitors?

    The tenant is responsible for anything that breaches the tenancy agreement done by any person in the house or flat with the tenant's permission. If the tenant can prove they took all reasonable steps to eject the person or prevent the person entering the house they may not be held responsible.
  • What are the landlord's responsibilities?
    • to provide the house or flat in a reasonable state of cleanliness
    • to keep the house or flat in a reasonable state of repair
    • to comply with building, health and safety requirements
    • to compensate the tenant for urgent repairs when the tenant has made a reasonable attempt to get the landlord to do it
    • to make sure none of the other tenants in neighbouring flats disturb the tenant
    • to provide locks that ensure the house or flat is secure
    • to notify the tenants of the house or flat if it is going to be sold
    • to give 48 hours notice of an inspection

    to give 24 hours notice of any repair work to be carried out.

  • What kind of Tenancy Agreements are there?

    Fixed term tenancies
    A fixed term tenancy is for a specific period of time for example, six months or a year. It must have a start date and a termination date, and cannot be ended by giving notice. The Tenancy Tribunal can end the fixed term tenancy earlier if unforseen circumstances create hardship for the tenant remaining tied by the tenancy.

    Periodic Tenancies
    A periodic tenancy is not for any specific period of time and can be terminated by either the landlord or tenant giving notice to the other party. The Landlord is responsible for providing the agreement. Tenancy Services have standard form agreements that a lot of landlords use.


     

  • How much rent in advance can a landlord ask for?

    Rent can be charged for a maximum of two weeks in advance.
  • What if the rent is too high?

    If a tenant thinks they are being charged too much rent they can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have their rent reviewed.

    The Tribunal will reduce the rent if it is satisfied the rent is substantially above the market rent. The Tribunal will consider the rent being charged for similar tenancies in similar localities.

  • How often can the rent be increased?

    Landlords must give 60 days' notice in writing before putting up the rent, which cannot be increased within 180 days (six months) of either the start of the tenancy or the last rent increase.
  • What is a bond?

    A bond of up to four weeks' rent and is money the landlord can ask a tenant to pay as security. The landlord must pay the bond to the Tenancy Services Centre or the Ministry of Housing within 23 working days of receiving it.

  • What happens to the bond at the end of the tenancy?

    The bond will be paid back to the tenant if there is no damage to the property and the rent is up to date. The landlord can claim for damage, cleaning or rent arrears. If there is a dispute about the bond, the Tenancy Tribunal will make a decision about what happens to the bond.

  • What can a tenant do if the landlord breaches the tenancy agreement?

    They can ask the landlord to remedy the breach. If the landlord refuses they can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal. The Tribunal can grant compensation for a breach of the tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act.

  • What if the landlord won't carry out a repair?

    If it is urgent and a serious threat to health or safety, the tenant can get the repairs done and recover the costs from the landlord, but they must try and contact the landlord first.

    If it is a non-urgent repair and the landlord does not act, the tenant should send the landlord a notice asking for the repair to be carried out. If the landlord still fails to carry out the repair, the tenant should apply for a work order from the Tenancy Tribunal and ask for compensation.

    It is important that the tenant does not withhold rent for the landlord's failure to carry out repairs, because if the rent gets more than 21 days behind the landlord might ask for termination.

  • How does a tenancy end?

    By notice
    The landlord or the tenant gives notice.

    A landlord has to give 90 days' notice in writing which can be reduced to 42 days if the property is sold or needed for the landlord or landlord's family.

    A tenant has to give 21 days' notice in writing.

    By the Tribunal
    The Tribunal can end the tenancy if it is satisfied

    • the rent is more than 21 days in arrears
    • the tenant caused or threatened to cause substantial damage
    • the tenant assaulted or threatened to assault the landlord or a member of the landlord's family
    • the tenancy agreement has been breached and the landlord has sent the tenant a letter giving the tenant 10 working days notice to put things right and the problem continues.

    For example, the tenant has a dog at the property and this is not allowed in the tenancy agreement. The landlord sends a letter giving the tenant 10 working days' notice asking that the dog be removed from the property and the tenant does nothing.

  • What can a tenant do if they have problems with the landlord?

    Disputes between tenants and landlords are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act. Tenancy Services provides a mediation service to assist with the resolution of disputes. If mediation is not successful, the case can be referred to the Tenancy Tribunal for an adjudicator to make a decision.

    For information and advice about renting, people should contact Tenancy Services. If the problem cannot be resolved, an application can be made to the Tenancy Tribunal for a fee of $20.00.

    Tenancy Services will first arrange mediation to resolve the dispute. If this does not work, the dispute will be referred to the Tenancy Tribunal where an adjudicator will make a decision.

  • Tips for tenants :
    • first tell the landlord the problem in person or on the phone, then follow up with a letter confirming the conversation. Persist if nothing happens
    • keep copies of letters or notes written
    • keep a record of events and conversations
    • contact Tenancy Services for advice
    • make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal if there is no action
    • do not stop paying rent regardless of what the landlord does or doesn't do