Home | Browse Topics | Jobs, benefits & flats | Tenancy and housing | When the Tenancy Tribunal can end a tenancy

Jobs, benefits & flats

Moving out: When and how tenancies end

When the Tenancy Tribunal can end a tenancy

Overdue rent , damage, or assault: Landlord can apply for a Tribunal Order

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, s 55

Your landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order ending your tenancy (a “termination order”) if you’re three weeks (21 days) or more behind in the rent.

But if you pay the overdue amount by the time the Tribunal comes to make its decision, the Tribunal won’t end the tenancy, so long as it’s satisfied you probably won’t fall behind in the rent again.

If you haven’t paid the overdue amount when the Tribunal comes to make a decision, it can still decide to give you a chance to pay. Here it makes what’s called a “conditional order”, which gives you a set time to pay the overdue amount. It can only do this if it’s satisfied that you’ll pay the overdue rent by the set date and that it’s unlikely you’ll fall behind again. If you don’t pay the overdue rent on time, the tenancy automatically comes to an end without the landlord having to go back to the Tribunal for another order.

A landlord can also apply to the Tribunal for a termination order if you’ve done substantial damage or allowed someone else to do this, or if you’ve threatened to cause substantial damage. The Tribunal will end the tenancy unless it’s satisfied that you’ve fixed any damage and that it’s unlikely the problem will happen again.

The landlord can also apply for a termination order if you’ve assaulted or threatened them, or one of their family, or their agent or a neighbour.

Landlord or tenant can apply to end tenancy for a breach of the tenancy agreement

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, s 56

Either you or your landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a termination order ending the tenancy if the other side has breached the tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act and hasn’t fixed the problem. The other side has to have been given a notice saying what the problem is and telling them to fix it within a set time, which has to be at least two weeks. The Tribunal can end the tenancy if it’s satisfied that it would be unfair (“inequitable”) not to do this. The landlord can use this process if, for example, you’re behind in the rent or you’ve damaged the property.

Your landlord can apply for a possession order if you don’t move out

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, ss 60, 63, 64

If your tenancy ends but you don’t leave, the landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a “possession order” telling you to leave. Until you leave, your responsibilities as the tenant continue, including paying rent.

The Tribunal can’t make a possession order if it’s more than three months (90 days) since the end of the tenancy. If the landlord hasn’t got a possession order within that time, the law says you have a new periodic (“indefinite”) tenancy on the same terms and conditions as your previous tenancy agreement.

To enforce a “possession order”, the landlord has to go to the District Court. You’ll then be evicted by a court official (a “bailiff”) with help from the police. It’s against the law for landlords to evict tenants themselves: they can be fined up to $2,000 for doing this.

The landlord has three months (90 days) to take the possession order to the District Court to get it enforced. If they haven’t done this after three months, a new periodic tenancy starts, on the same terms and conditions as the previous tenancy.

Did this answer your question?

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.

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top