Rent, bond and other costs
COVID-19 rent freeze for 6 months
Rents were frozen for six months from 26 March 2020 until 25 September 2020, as part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your landlord increases or tries to increase your rent during that time while knowing of this rent freeze, you can complain to the Tenancy Tribunal and they could be fined up to $6,500.
How much rent in advance can a landlord ask for?
Your landlord can ask you for no more than two weeks’ rent in advance.
Does the landlord have to give me receipts for rent?
This depends on how you pay your rent. They have to give you a receipt, and give it to you immediately, if there’s no other record – for example, if you pay by cash or by a cash cheque.
The landlord doesn’t have to give you receipts if you pay by automatic bank payment, by deposits into a bank account they use only for payments from their tenants, by deductions from your pay or benefit that go into your landlord’s account, or by non-negotiable personal cheque.
If you ask for it, the landlord must give you a written statement of your rent payments showing the period that a payment relates to, so that you know exactly what dates your rent covers. All landlords have to keep proper business records showing all rent and bond payments.
When and how often can my rent be increased?
Your landlord can increase your rent no more than once every 12 months. They have to give you 60 days’ advance notice (two months) of any rent increase, and this has to be in writing.
If your landlord does a rent review each year, they have to include details of the annual review in your tenancy agreement or tell you about it before the tenancy starts. If the rent goes up, they have to give you 60 days’ notice, and the increase will take effect on the date each year that’s set in the agreement or from the next rent payment date after that set date.
With a fixed-term tenancy, your landlord can only increase the rent if your agreement allows it. If the increase is substantial and will cause you “serious hardship”, and you couldn’t reasonably have foreseen that the increase would be that much, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end the tenancy.
Your landlord can apply to the Tribunal to increase the rent if they’ve made significant improvements with your permission, or if they’ve had unexpected costs to do with the property.
Getting your rent reviewed if it’s higher than other rents
If your rent is substantially higher than the rents of similar properties in similar areas, you can go to the Tenancy Tribunal to ask it to reduce your rent to a “market rent” (to find out what the Tribunal has decided is the market rent for your area or suburb, go to www.tenancy.govt.nz). If the Tribunal does order your landlord to lower your rent, the rent will usually be fixed at that level for six months. (For information about going to the Tribunal, see “Problems with your landlord: What you can do” in this chapter.)
What happens if I get behind in my rent?
As soon as you’re overdue in your rent – even if just by one day – your landlord can give you a written notice telling you to pay the overdue amount within two weeks (14 days), or longer if the landlord chooses. If you don’t pay it by the set time, your landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for it to order you to pay the overdue rent. They can also ask the Tribunal to end the tenancy and order you to move out.
The landlord can also go to the Tribunal for these orders once you’re three weeks (21 days) behind in the rent, regardless of whether they’ve given you a notice or not.
Your landlord can’t take any of your things in place of the unpaid rent, or for any other reason.