Tenancy Agreements

All there is to know about tenancy agreements

Tenancy Agreements

When renting property in New Zealand, it’s usual to sign a tenancy agreement, although the Department of Building and Housing issues a standard agreement for landlords and tenants.

If your landlord uses this agreement and you’re happy with the details, it isn’t usually necessary to have it checked by a lawyer as the terms and conditions are simple and written in non-legal language (other countries please take note!).

Most tenancy agreements are on a periodic basis, which means that the tenancy continues indefinitely until either party gives notice. A tenant is required to give 21 days notice to end a tenancy, but a landlord must give 90 days, except in exceptional circumstances, such as when he wishes to move into the property himself (in which case he needs to give 42 days notice only). It’s also possible to have a tenancy agreement for a fixed period, in which case the tenancy lasts for the period agreed at the outset only, although it can be extended by mutual agreement.

When you take up a tenancy, you must pay a bond to the landlord, which is usually the equivalent of one or two weeks’ rent, although legally it can be up to four weeks. The bond isn’t held by the landlord but by the Bond Processing Unit of the Tenancy Services Centre (Department of Building and Housing) and the landlord must pay your bond to the Unit within 23 working days of receiving it. At the end of the tenancy, the Bond Processing Unit refunds your bond less the cost of any damage (for which you’re responsible under the standard tenancy agreement).

Rent is usually paid fortnightly. The landlord must pay rates and home insurance, although your belongings may not be covered under the landlord’s policy and you may need to take out separate insurance for these.

If you have a dispute with your landlord, the Tenancy Services Centre will advise you on your rights and responsibilities and help resolve the problem. The largest causes of disputes in rented property, apart from tenants’ failure to pay the rent on time, are landlords who don’t maintain their premises (although they’re legally required to) and problems with neighbours (who may also be the same landlord’s tenants) in, for example, an apartment block or units.

Further reading

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: