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Moving out: When and how tenancies end

Giving notice to end an indefinite (“periodic”) tenancy

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, ss 2, 50, 51

“Periodic” tenancies are ones that run indefinitely, with no fixed end date in the agreement. If one side wants to end the tenancy, they have to give the legally required amount of notice. The notice period is different depending on whether it’s you or the landlord who gives notice.

Any notice to end a tenancy has to be in writing.

How much notice do I have to give when I move out?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, s 51(2B)

If you want to end the tenancy you have to give your landlord at least four weeks’ (28 days) notice, unless the landlord agrees that you can give less notice than this.

How much notice does my landlord have to give me if they want me to move out?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, s 51

Landlords must give you 90 days’ (at least three months) notice if they want to end the tenancy and it has to be for one of these reasons:

  • the landlord is putting the property on the market for sale within 90 days of the set end date, or
  • they’ve sold the property and the owner needs it to be empty (known as an unconditional sale, with “vacant possession”), or
  • it would be impractical for you to stay in the property because the landlord wants to do major alterations, refurbishment, repairs, or redevelopment within 90 days of the set end date, or
  • the landlord is changing the property to a commercial premise for at least 90 days, or
  • the landlord needs the property to be vacated for a business activity, and they told you that they use the property for that purpose, or
  • the landlord wants to demolish the property within 90 days after the set end date.

However, they only have to give you 63 days’ (at least nine weeks) notice if:

  • the landlord or one of their family wants to live in the place as their main home (usually it has to be immediate family) for at least 90 days, or
  • one of the landlord’s employees is going to live there, and the landlord told you before the tenancy started that the property was used for housing employee, or
  • your tenancy agreement clearly states that the landlord is the Ministry of Education and the property is usually for a school board of trustees.

If you’re given only 63 days’ notice in one of those situations, the landlord’s written notice to you must give the reason for ending the tenancy.

Written notice required

The landlord has to give you written notice if they put the property up for sale.

How much notice does my social housing landlord have to give me if they want me to move out?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, s 53B

Social housing refers to the government’s subsidised rental housing system, like Kāinga Ora for example.

You have to be given at least 90 days (three months) notice if:

  • you’re renting from Kāinga Ora on a tenancy agreement signed before 14 April 2014
  • you’re a tenant in social housing but you’re no longer eligible for it, or
  • your housing provider has stopped being a registered provider, or
  • your housing provider has a good reason to move you to another place that they operate, and the place you’re being moved to is right for your needs.

For more information on social housing situations, see: “Social housing: Tenants in state and community housing”.

Exceptions: When the usual notice requirements for indefinite tenancies don’t apply

The usual amount of notice doesn’t have to be given in these situations:

  • by agreement – if you and your landlord both agree, the tenancy can end early
  • renting from your boss – if your landlord is also your employer, and you quit the job or are fired or transferred, the notice period is at least two weeks (14 days), and in some situations less (these are called “service” tenancies)
  • student hostels – if you’re staying in a student hostel run by a university, polytech or other tertiary education organisation, and you stop being a student, the notice period is at least two weeks (14 days)
  • Tenancy Tribunal Order – The Tribunal can allow a shorter notice period, and it can also bring the tenancy to an end in some cases – for example, if you’re three weeks or more behind in the rent (see: “When the Tenancy Tribunal can end a periodic tenancy”).
Exceptions for family violence and physical assault

There are two upcoming changes to the law that will allow tenants and landlords to end the tenancy giving a shorter notice period:

There are two recent changes to the law that allow tenants and landlords to end the tenancy giving a shorter notice period:

  • Family violence – If you need to leave your flat quickly because you are experiencing family violence, the notice period has changed to two days’ notice (see: “Giving notice to end a tenancy due to family violence”).
  • Physical assault – If you assault the landlord, owner, their family, or the agent, the minimum notice period the landlord can give you is 14 days. There are set rules around what information the landlord has to provide when they give you notice – see a full list here (or, go to www.tenancy.govt.nz, select “Ending a tenancy” and navigate to “Ending a tenancy for physical assault by the tenant”).

Does my landlord have to give me a reason for wanting me to move out?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, ss 12, 51, 54, Sched 1A

If your landlord gives you 90 or 63 days’ notice, they have to give one of the reasons set out above (see: “How much notice does my landlord have to give me if they want me to move out?”).

The landlord can’t end the tenancy to get back at you because you exercised your rights as a tenant, or because they’re discriminating against you (for example, if they’ve given you notice because they’ve found out that you and your co-tenant are queer).

In those cases, you can go to the Tenancy Tribunal to get them to declare that the landlord’s notice isn’t legally valid. The Tribunal can also order the landlord to award you “damages” of up to $4,000 for this.

Did this answer your question?

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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