Tenancy and housing
Everyone renting their home has some basic legal protections
If you’re renting your home, you have some minimum legal protections, the same as you do with a job. Your legal rights don’t just depend on whatever agreement you have with your landlord, whether written or unwritten.
Your minimum rights cover things like how often the landlord can increase the rent, when they can come inside your place, and how many months’ notice they have to give you if they want you to move out.
These minimum protections are in the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 – the main law that deals with tenants and landlords.
Special COVID-19 rules
The official response to COVID-19 included two significant temporary changes to tenancy law:
- Eviction freeze – Landlords were prevented from ending tenancies, with some exceptions, between 26 March and 25 June 2020: see “Moving out: When and how tenancies end” in this chapter.
- Rent freeze – Rents were frozen for six months, from 26 March to 26 September 2020: see “Rent, bond and other costs” in this chapter.
- Tenant – The “tenant” is you, the person renting the place from the landlord.
- Landlord – The landlord is the person or organisation you rent your place from – they’re the owner. A landlord can be an individual person, or it can be a private company, a trust, a government organisation like Kāinga Ora (Housing New Zealand), or a local city council. But sometimes you might deal with an agent who works for the landlord, rather than with the landlord personally – for example, the landlord might employ a property management business to deal with tenants.
- Flatmate – this isn’t a legal term, but it’s the word sometimes used to describe someone who’s not a tenant of the property but who shares a place and shares the rent with the tenant. For more details, see “Tenants and flatmates: Who’s covered when you’re sharing the rent”.
- Tenancy Services – This is the government agency that deals with tenants and landlords; it’s part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). You can get information from Tenancy Services about your rights as a tenant – phone them on 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62).
Note: If you have no home to sleep in, and you want a home, there are a few agencies that can help you. You also have some rights to sleep outside if you choose to. See the chapter “Neighbourhood life / Begging, busking and sleeping rough” for more information on homelessness and sleeping outside.