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Communtity Law Manual | Tenancy & housing | When the Tenancy Tribunal can end a tenancy

Moving out: When and how tenancies end

When the Tenancy Tribunal can end a tenancy

Overdue rent or damage: 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.

Special COVID-19 rules for existing Tenancy Tribunal termination orders

Residential Tenancies Act 1986 Schedule 5, cl 10

Termination orders made by the Tenancy Tribunal before 26 March 2020 were temporarily suspended from 26 March until 10 July 2020 – but this didn’t apply to orders made for non-payment of rent, or for damage or assault.

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.

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