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Bond: The landlord’s security against damage or unpaid rent

What is a bond?

A bond is money that you, the tenant, pay to the landlord at the beginning of the tenancy as security. This is in case you don’t pay all your rent, or you cause damage to the property. In those cases the landlord will be able to take the rent or repair costs out of the bond at the end of the tenancy. If you don’t owe any money to the landlord at the end of the tenancy, you will get it all back.

How much bond can a landlord ask for?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, ss 18, 18A

A landlord can ask you to pay a bond equal to up to four weeks’ rent. They can’t ask for any other form of security on top of the bond – for example, they can’t ask you to put up your car as security.

What happens to the bond after I pay it to the landlord?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, ss 19–21, 109

The landlord has to give you a receipt for the bond and pay the bond over to Tenancy Services within 23 working days. If they don’t pay it over to Tenancy Services, the Tenancy Tribunal can order your landlord to pay you a penalty of up to $1,000. Alternatively, you can pay your bond directly to Tenancy Services, if the landlord agrees to this.

You and the landlord must both sign a bond lodgement form, which is sent to Tenancy Services with the bond money. Tenancy Services will give you both a written acknowledgement that they’ve received the bond.

What happens to the bond at the end of the tenancy?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, ss 22–22E

This depends on whether there’s any disagreement between you and the landlord about whether you should get all the bond money back:

  • If you and the landlord agree, either of you can apply to have the bond refunded. If you both agree that everything in the property is OK, or if you agree that the landlord can take some money out of the bond to cover damage, cleaning or unpaid rent, then both of you sign a bond refund form that says what you’ve agreed should happen with the bond.
  • If you and the landlord don’t agree, then one of you can apply to get the bond, and the other side then has 10 working days to object. If the other person doesn’t object in time, the bond will usually be paid to the person who applied for it. As the tenant, you can apply for a bond refund at any time after the tenancy ends, but the landlord has only two months after the tenancy ends to apply. If there’s a dispute about the bond refund, you can take it to the Tenancy Tribunal (see: “Problems with your landlord: What you can do”).

Can I transfer my bond if I move to a new place with a new landlord?

Yes, if the old landlord agrees. You can just keep the old bond with Tenancy Services and have them transfer it to cover the new tenancy. You’ll have to fill out a “bond transfer” form, which has to be signed by you, the old landlord and the new landlord. The new landlord then sends the form to Tenancy Services.

What happens to the bond if a flatmate moves out and another moves in?

If the person moving out was a tenant and had signed the bond lodgement form, the new tenant can pay their bond directly to the old tenant. You should only transfer the money after everyone has signed the “Change of tenant” form, and sent it to Tenancy Services.

If the person moving out hadn’t signed the tenancy agreement and the bond lodgement form, they don’t have a legal right to the bond that’s held by Tenancy Services. You can come up with a different agreement between flatmates if you choose, and this may be enforceable in the Disputes Tribunal. For more about the difference between a tenant and someone who’s just a flatmate, see: “Who’s covered by the minimum tenancy protections”.

Next Section | Rent

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Tenancy and housing

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

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.

Website: www.tenancy.govt.nz
Tenancy advice: 0800 83 62 62 (0800 TENANCY). Free translation services are available.
Bond enquiries: 0800 737 666. Free translation services are available.

Ministry of Social Development – Work and Income (WINZ)

Work and Income assess eligibility for social housing provided by Kāinga Ora and other registered community housing providers. WINZ also calculates income-related rent for social housing and conducts tenancy reviews.

Website: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/index.html
Phone: 0800 559 009
Email: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/nowhere-to-stay/index.html
Email: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/find-a-house/who-can-get-public-housing.html
Email: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/find-a-house/apply-for-public-housing.html

Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand)

Kāinga Ora manages New Zealand’s public housing and places people in public homes.  Kāinga Ora’s website provides information for existing and prospective tenants.

Website: www.kaingaora.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 801 601
Office locations: kaingaora.govt.nz/our-locations
When to contact Kāinga Ora vs Work and Income resource: kaingaora.govt.nz/tenants-and-communities/renting-a-home

Note: to apply for a Kāinga Ora home, you need to contact Work and Income – “Ministry of Social Development – Work and Income (WINZ)” above.

Tenancy Tribunal

The Tenancy Tribunal can help you if you have an issue with a tenant or landlord that you can’t solve yourself. The Tribunal will hear both sides of the argument and can issue an order that is legally binding.

Information on how to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal: www.tenancy.govt.nz/disputes/Tribunal/making-an-application

Aratohu Tenant Advocacy

The Aratohu Tenant Advocacy is a comprehensive online resource that provides support and guidance to tenants and their advocates.

Website: tenant.aratohu.nz

Tenants Protection Association Auckland (TPA)

The Tenants Protection Association provides advocacy and support to renters in Auckland.

Website: tpaauckland.org.nz
Phone: 09 360 1473

Manawatū Tenants’ Union

The Manawatū Tenants’ Union provides advocacy and support to renters in the Manawatū region.

Website: www.mtu.org.nz
Email: info@mtu.org.nz
Phone: 06 357 7435

Renters United

Renters United is an organisation for renters in Wellington. They focus on organising renters and campaigning to make renting better for everyone.

Website: rentersunited.org.nz
Online contact form: rentersunited.org.nz/contact
Instagram: www.instagram.com/fairrentnow
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rentersunitednz

Community Housing Regulatory Authority

The Community Housing Regulatory Authority registers and regulates community housing providers.

Website: chra.hud.govt.nz
Email: CHRA@hud.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 141 411

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provides free, confidential and independent information and advice.  See CAB’s website for valuable information on a range of topics.

Website: www.cab.org.nz
Phone: 0800 367 222
Facebook: www.facebook.com/citizensadvicenz

Find your local CAB office: www.cab.org.nz/find-a-cab

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