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Moving out: When and how tenancies end

Giving notice to end an indefinite (“periodic”) tenancy

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, ss 2, 50, 51

“Periodic” tenancies are ones that run indefinitely, with no fixed end date in the agreement. If one side wants to end the tenancy, they have to give the legally required amount of notice. The notice period is different depending on whether it’s you or the landlord who gives notice.

Any notice to end a tenancy has to be in writing.

How much notice do I have to give when I move out?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, s 51(2B)

If you want to end the tenancy you have to give your landlord at least four weeks’ (28 days) notice, unless the landlord agrees that you can give less notice than this.

How much notice does my landlord have to give me if they want me to move out?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, s 51

From February 2021, landlords must give you 90 days’ (at least three months) notice if they want to end the tenancy and it has to be for one of these reasons:

  • the landlord is putting the property on the market for sale within 90 days of the set end date, or
  • they’ve sold the property and the owner needs it to be empty (known as an unconditional sale, with “vacant possession”), or
  • it would be impractical for you to stay in the property because the landlord wants to do major alterations, refurbishment, repairs, or redevelopment within 90 days of the set end date, or
  • the landlord is changing the property to a commercial premise for at least 90 days, or
  • the landlord needs the property to be vacated for a business activity, and they told you that they use the property for that purpose, or
  • the landlord wants to demolish the property within 90 days’ after the set end date.

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, s 51

However, they only have to give you 63 days’ (at least nine weeks) notice if:

  • the landlord or one of their family wants to live in the place as their main home (usually it has to be immediate family) for at least 90 days, or
  • one of the landlord’s employees is going to live there, and the landlord told you before the tenancy started that the property was used for housing employee, or
  • your tenancy agreement clearly states that the landlord is the Ministry of Education and the property is usually for a school board of trustees.

If you’re given only 63 days’ notice in one of those situations, the landlord’s written notice to you must give the reason for ending the tenancy.

Written notice required

The landlord has to give you written notice if they put the property up for sale.

How much notice does my social housing landlord have to give me if they want me to move out?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, s 53B

Social housing refers to the government’s subsidised rental housing system, like Kāinga Ora for example.

You have to be given at least 90 days (three months) notice if:

  • you’re renting from Kāinga Ora on a tenancy agreement signed before 14 April 2014
  • you’re a tenant in social housing but you’re no longer eligible for it, or
  • your housing provider has stopped being a registered provider, or
  • your housing provider has a good reason to move you to another place that they operate, and the place you’re being moved to is right for your needs.

For more information on social housing situations, see “Social housing: Tenants in state and community housing” later in this chapter.

Exceptions: When the usual notice requirements for indefinite tenancies don’t apply

The usual amount of notice doesn’t have to be given in these situations:

    • by agreement – your landlord can agree in writing to you ending the tenancy early
    • renting from your boss – if your landlord is also your employer, and you quit the job or are fired or transferred, the notice period is at least two weeks (14 days), and in some situations less. (These are called “service” tenancies)
    • student hostels – if you’re staying in a student hostel run by a university, polytech or other tertiary education organisation, and you stop being a student, the notice period is at least two weeks (14 days)
    • Tenancy Tribunal Order – The Tribunal can allow a shorter notice period, and it can also bring the tenancy to an end in some cases – for example, if you’re three weeks or more behind in the rent (see below “When the Tenancy Tribunal can end a periodic tenancy”)
Exceptions for family violence and physical assault

There are two upcoming changes to the law that will allow tenants and landlords to end the tenancy giving a shorter notice period:

  • Family violence – If you need to leave your flat quickly because you are experiencing family violence, the notice period is about to be changed to two days’ notice. This will come into effect after the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development create a set of regulations to decide what kind of evidence you need to provide when you give notice to your landlord. See “Giving notice to end a tenancy due to family violence” below.
  • Physical assault – If you assault the landlord, owner, their family, or the agent, the minimum notice period the landlord can give you will soon be 14 days. This notice period will come into effect once the Ministry of Housing and Urban development decide what information landlords must include in the ’14 days’ notice for termination’ in this situation. However landlords in this situation can still apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end the tenancy before the regulations are ready.

Does my landlord have to give me a reason for wanting me to move out?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, ss 12, 51, 54, Sched 1A

If your landlord gives you 90 or 63 days’ notice, they have to give one of the reasons set out above. See “How much notice does my landlord have to give me if they want me to move out?”.

The landlord can’t end the tenancy in retaliation against you because you exercised your rights as a tenant or because they’re discriminating against you (for example, if they’ve given you notice because they’ve found out that you and your co-tenant are a same-sex couple). Discriminating against you is illegal.

In those cases, you can go to the Tenancy Tribunal to get them to declare that the landlord’s notice isn’t legally valid. The Tribunal can also order the landlord to award you “damages” of up to $4,000 for this.

Did this answer your question?

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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