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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?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, s 48

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?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, ss 48(4)(a), 109

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?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, s 48(7)

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.

Next Section | Damage and repairs

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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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