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Tenancy and housing

Introduction

In August 2020, the government introduced a range of new laws that provide better protections for tenants. These include new rules about when a landlord can end a lease, limiting rent increases to once a year, leaving a lease early, making changes to the property, and enforcing your rights as a tenant.

Tenancy and COVID-19

The COVID-19 Protection Framework has affected some rights and obligations for tenants and landlords. This chapter will cover some of these changes including whether a landlord can ask you if you are vaccinated or whether you can refuse entry to landlords or tradespeople if they are unvaccinated.

For more information see the sections, “Moving in: Signing a tenancy agreement with a landlord”, “Living in your house or flat: Rights and obligations”, and “Social housing: Tenants in state and community housing”

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.

These minimum protections only apply to residential tenancies. See “Who’s covered by the minimum tenancy protections” in this section.

Who’s who

  • 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.

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Tenancy and housing

Where to go for more support

Community Law

www.communitylaw.org.nz

Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and can help you make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal.

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

www.tenancy.govt.nz 

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

Tenancy advice line

Phone: 0800 83 62 62 (0800 TENANCY). Free translation services are available.

Bond enquiries

Phone: 0800 737 666. Free translation services are available.

Information and forms

Tenancy Services provides information and various forms online or you can order forms by phoning 0800 83 62 62 (0800 TENANC)

Applying to the Tenancy Tribunal

You can apply online, or you can get a paper copy of the form from a Tenancy Services office. The application processes are explained at:
www.tenancy.govt.nz/disputes/Tribunal/making-an-application

Tenants Protection Associations

www.tpa.org.nz

Some cities have Tenants Protection Associations:

Christchurch – (03) 379 2297,

Auckland – (09) 360 1473

Renters United

www.rentersunited.org.nz (in Wellington only)

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

Manawatu Tenants Union

Manawatu Tenants Union provides advocacy and support for renters in the Manawatu region

Phone: 06 357 7435

Email: info@mtu.org.nz

Citizens Advice Bureau

www.cab.org.nz

Phone (0800 FOR CAB) 0800 367 222

Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for information about what local tenancy services are available to you.

Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand)

www.kaingaora.govt.nz

Kāinga Ora, which manages the state housing stock in New Zealand, has a range of information on its website.

Phone: 0800 801 601

Ministry of Social Development

www.msd.govt.nz

The Ministry of Social Development assesses eligibility for the social housing provided by Housing New Zealand and registered community housing providers. MSD also calculates income-related rent for social housing and conducts tenancy reviews.

MSD‘s social housing staff can be contacted through Work and Income offices:

Phone Work and Income on 0800 559 009 or, if you’re 65 or older, contact Senior Services on 0800 552 002.

Community Housing Regulatory Authority

www.chra.hud.govt.nz

Phone: (04) 896 5908

Email: CHRA@hud.govt.nz

The Authority approves and registers community housing providers and monitors registered providers. You can read the register of approved providers on the Authority’s website.

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