Living in your house or flat: Rights and obligations
When your landlord can come inside your place
When is my landlord allowed to come inside my house or flat?
Landlords can’t just come into your house or flat whenever they feel like it. Although they own the property, you’re the one with the legal right to have possession and use of the place. Your landlord can enter only in the following situations:
- With your permission – the landlord can enter if you’ve freely given permission for this, either at the time or immediately before.
- For inspections – if the landlord wants to inspect the property, including to see if you’ve fixed damage that you had caused, they can only do this between 8 am and 7 pm, and they must also have given you written notice in advance – at least 48 hours before, but not more than two weeks before. They can’t inspect the property more than once every four weeks.
- For testing – the landlord can enter to test for methamphetamine while you are living there, so long as they give you 48 hours’ notice to enter (or 24 hours for a boarding house). The landlord must tell you what they are testing for and share the results with you within seven days after they get them. See below “Safety: Smoke alarms and methamphetamine contamination”.
- For repairs and maintenance – if your landlord needs to come in to do repairs or maintenance, they have to give you at least 24 hours’ notice (either written or spoken) and tell you the reason. They can only come in between 8 am and 7 pm. Doing things just to improve the image or presentation of your place doesn’t count as “repairs and maintenance”, so for that they’ll need to get your permission to enter.
- When showing people through – the landlord can show a potential buyer or tenant, or a valuer or real estate agent, through your house or flat if it’s at a reasonable time and you’ve given permission. You can’t refuse unreasonably, but you can set some reasonable conditions – for example, you might limit these visits to certain times of day and days of the week, or refuse to have open homes and auctions on the site, or agree to open homes but say you want to be present while they’re happening.
- For agreed services – the landlord can come into your house or flat to provide you with any services that were agreed to under your tenancy agreement, so long as they also comply with any conditions to do with entry that are stated in your agreement.
- When checking if you’ve moved out – if you’re more than 14 days behind in the rent and the landlord has good reason to think you’ve moved out, they can come in to find out, but they have to give you 24 hours’ written notice first.
- In emergencies – the landlord can enter whenever there’s an emergency, like a fire.
- With a Tenancy Tribunal Order – the landlord can enter if the Tenancy Tribunal has made an order allowing them to do this.
What can I do if my landlord comes in when they’re not allowed to?
If your landlord comes into house or flat when they’re not allowed to, the Tenancy Tribunal could order them to pay you up to $1,000, as “damages”.
It’s a criminal offence if the landlord uses force, or the threat of force, to enter or try to enter while you’re home. For this they can be fined up to $2,000 or jailed for up to three months.
When can my landlord come onto the section?
The restrictions about landlords entering your house or flat (see above) don’t apply to your section – your lawn, paths, gardens and so on – and so your landlord doesn’t need permission to come onto your section.
On the other hand, you have the right to the “quiet enjoyment” of your place, including your section, and the landlord isn’t allowed to interfere with your “reasonable peace, comfort or privacy”. Your landlord could be breaching your tenancy agreement if, for example, they come onto your section too often, or make too much noise when they’re there, or get in the way when you’re enjoying your back lawn or garden over the weekend.
Can I ask my landlord if they’re vaccinated against COVID-19, and can I stop them from entering the property if they refuse to tell me?
No. However, your landlord must take steps to keep themselves and you safe. You can talk to your landlord to take COVID-19 safety measures for example, keeping contact tracing records, wearing a mask and keeping social distance. If a landlord does not take these precautions, you could complain to the Tenancy Tribunal.
The landlord must follow the normal rules in the Residential Tenancies Act when coming to your residence, including giving at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the property.
Can I stop any tradespeople from entering the property if they aren’t vaccinated?
You can’t refuse access to unvaccinated tradespeople who have been hired by the landlord to carry out necessary repairs or maintenance.
If the repairs or maintenance are not necessary, the landlord will require your consent to access the property, and you can refuse access for any reason, including vaccination status.
If you have concerns about unvaccinated tradespeople, you should speak to your landlord to try to come up with an arrangement that works for everyone. For example, you could agree to arrangements where the repairs can be carried out at the property while you aren’t home.