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Moving out: When and how tenancies end

When the Tenancy Tribunal can end a periodic tenancy

Overdue rent, anti-social behaviour, or hardship: Landlord can apply for a Tribunal termination order

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, ss 55, 55AA, 55B

From February 2021, there are certain situations where your landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order ending your tenancy (a “termination order”). Including in the following situations:

  • Overdue rent – The Tribunal can make a termination order if you get behind on rent (for five working days or more) three times within a 90-day period. This works like a “three-strikes” policy. But your landlord has to prove that they gave notice every time you were behind in rent, advised you of your right to challenge the notice, and applied to the Tribunal in time (within 28 days of the third notice).
  • Anti-social behaviour – A landlord can also apply for a termination order for anti-social behaviour. They need to prove that you or anyone you allowed on the property harassed, or did something causing harm, distress, or nuisance three times within 90 days. The Tribunal will end the tenancy if it’s satisfied that your landlord gave notice containing the details of each incident, and if it wouldn’t be unfair in the circumstances.
  • Hardship – The Tribunal can only make a termination order if the landlord can show they would suffer an unreasonable amount of hardship, more than what you would suffer if the tenancy were to continue. The Tribunal must take into account the impact that the termination would have on you.
Example: Retaliation for exercising your rights?

Case: Tenancy Tribunal 4100884

A tenant rented a room in a boarding house with a total of 14 residents. This shared house was run by a charitable trust that provides accommodation for vulnerable people who find it hard to rent in the private market or to get council or state housing.

The tenant, who had a mental illness, was given notice by the landlord that they were ending the tenancy. The tenant had made a number of complaints to the landlord about the place and the other residents – for example, that the light in the toilet didn’t work and that the other residents had been rude to him. The tenant argued that the landlord gave him notice to end the tenancy to get back at him (“retaliation”) for making complaints.

The charitable trust told the Tenancy Tribunal that the tenant’s behaviour, not his complaints, were the reason for ending the tenancy. They had fixed the problems he complained about. They said he’d been annoying other residents and had sent the manager a large number of texts about very trivial things (like other tenants leaving cereal on the bench).

The Tribunal concluded that the landlord hadn’t given notice because the tenant had asked for some work to be done at the boarding house, but because of the tenant’s behaviour and the way he communicated with staff and other tenants.

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Tenancy and housing

Where to go for more support

Community Law


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)


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:

Tenants Protection Associations


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


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)


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


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


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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