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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 the Tribunal can give you a set time to pay the overdue amount – this is called a “conditional order”. The Tribunal can only do this if they are 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. You can use this process if, for example, your landlord hasn’t properly insulated the house, or if they didn’t lodge the bond with Tenancy Services.

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 an order telling you to leave. This is called a “possession order.” 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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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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