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Tenancy and housing


If you’re renting your home (if you’re a “tenant”), 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.

These minimum protections only apply to residential tenancies (see: “Who’s covered by the minimum tenancy protections”).

Who’s who

  • Tenant – The “tenant” is the person renting the place from the landlord, who has signed a tenancy agreement.
  • 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 – For the purposes of this chapter, we’ll use “flatmate” to describe someone who didn’t sign the tenancy agreement, but who lives in a house or flat and pays rent and expenses to the tenants. 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. For more information on homelessness and sleeping outside, see: “Neighbourhood life / Begging, busking and sleeping rough”.

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Tenancy and housing

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Tenancy Services – Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

MBIE’s Tenancy Services section provides information to tenants and to landlords. It also provides dispute-resolution services.

Website: www.tenancy.govt.nz
Tenancy advice: 0800 83 62 62 (0800 TENANCY). Free translation services are available.
Bond enquiries: 0800 737 666. Free translation services are available.

Ministry of Social Development – Work and Income (WINZ)

Work and Income assess eligibility for social housing provided by Kāinga Ora and other registered community housing providers. WINZ also calculates income-related rent for social housing and conducts tenancy reviews.

Website: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/index.html
Phone: 0800 559 009
Email: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/nowhere-to-stay/index.html
Email: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/find-a-house/who-can-get-public-housing.html
Email: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/find-a-house/apply-for-public-housing.html

Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand)

Kāinga Ora manages New Zealand’s public housing and places people in public homes.  Kāinga Ora’s website provides information for existing and prospective tenants.

Website: www.kaingaora.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 801 601
Office locations: kaingaora.govt.nz/our-locations
When to contact Kāinga Ora vs Work and Income resource: kaingaora.govt.nz/tenants-and-communities/renting-a-home

Note: to apply for a Kāinga Ora home, you need to contact Work and Income – “Ministry of Social Development – Work and Income (WINZ)” above.

Tenancy Tribunal

The Tenancy Tribunal can help you if you have an issue with a tenant or landlord that you can’t solve yourself. The Tribunal will hear both sides of the argument and can issue an order that is legally binding.

Information on how to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal: www.tenancy.govt.nz/disputes/Tribunal/making-an-application

Aratohu Tenant Advocacy

The Aratohu Tenant Advocacy is a comprehensive online resource that provides support and guidance to tenants and their advocates.

Website: tenant.aratohu.nz

Tenants Protection Association Auckland (TPA)

The Tenants Protection Association provides advocacy and support to renters in Auckland.

Website: tpaauckland.org.nz
Phone: 09 360 1473

Manawatū Tenants’ Union

The Manawatū Tenants’ Union provides advocacy and support to renters in the Manawatū region.

Website: www.mtu.org.nz
Email: info@mtu.org.nz
Phone: 06 357 7435

Renters United

Renters United is an organisation for renters in Wellington. They focus on organising renters and campaigning to make renting better for everyone.

Website: rentersunited.org.nz
Online contact form: rentersunited.org.nz/contact
Instagram: www.instagram.com/fairrentnow
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rentersunitednz

Community Housing Regulatory Authority

The Community Housing Regulatory Authority registers and regulates community housing providers.

Website: chra.hud.govt.nz
Email: CHRA@hud.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 141 411

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provides free, confidential and independent information and advice.  See CAB’s website for valuable information on a range of topics.

Website: www.cab.org.nz
Phone: 0800 367 222
Facebook: www.facebook.com/citizensadvicenz

Find your local CAB office: www.cab.org.nz/find-a-cab

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