Finding the right place to rent can be worth all the stresses of house-hunting and moving in. But before you sign that contract, it's important to know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, so you can anticipate and avoid potential issues.
What is the Residential Tenancies Act 1986?
This law requires landlords to make sure their rental properties are in good, livable condition and provide repairs or maintenance as needed. This may depend on the age of the property, its current state, and how long it's likely to remain livable for tenants. Aside from keeping them habitable, the Act also requires landlords to rent out their properties in a reasonable state of cleanliness.
The Act also reinforces landlords to comply with all the requirements in respect of building or properties, such as health and safety. This means it's essential for landlords to be aware of the health-related and safety-related requirements under the following laws:
- Building Act 2004 and the Building Code
- Health Act 1956
- Housing Improvement Regulations 1947
- Bylaws made under the Local Government Act 2002. These are set by individual councils.
Both landlords and tenants in New Zealand have responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986.
As a tenant, it’s important to know your responsibilities and rights, as well as that of your landlord’s before renting a property and signing an agreement.
Learning about a landlord’s rights and responsibilities lets you know what you can and cannot demand from them, and the things you're allowed to do while you’re renting the property.
Tenancy agreement and other information about the property
The landlord must:
- Give the tenant a copy of a signed tenancy agreement as well as two separate statements
- Inform the tenant if the property is insured as part of the new tenancy agreement, and if it is, the landlord must let the tenant know that this information is available to them upon request
- Inform the tenant with new information within a reasonable time if there are any changes in the insurance
- State the amount of rent in ads or offers for rental properties
Repairs, maintenance, changes in the property, and security
The landlord must:
- Make sure the rental place is allowed for residential use and is clean and orderly before the tenant moves in
- Make sure the property is reasonably secure by providing locks
- Make sure that there are smoke alarms installed and that they are working properly and situated in the right places
- Maintain the property and provide repairs if needed
- Make sure that the structure of the building is in good condition and that plumbing and electrical wiring is working properly
- If the property doesn't have a reticulated water supply, the landlord must provide enough water collection and storage for the tenants
- Pay the tenant back for any urgent repairs or work the tenant has paid for. the tenant must provide proof that they informed the landlord about the issue before getting it fixed and that it wasn't the tenant’s fault
- Agree to the tenant requests in case they want to install fibre broadband
- If it relates to health and safety, the landlord must action a Tenancy Tribunal work order
- Follow the healthy homes standards by the required deadline
- Must give 48 hours notice in case they need to inspect the property. inspection must be done not more than once every four weeks and only between 8:00 am and 7:00 pm
- Must give 24 hours notice if the need to do necessary repairs or maintenance to meet the healthy homes standards and do the repairs only between 8:00 am and 7:00 pm
- If the tenant has requested to make a minor change to the rental property, the landlord must respond to the request within 21 days
Changes in the contract and availability of the property
The landlord must:
- Write and give the tenant at least 60 days before putting the rent up
- Take all the necessary steps to make sure tenants don't disturb the other tenants
- Inform the tenant if they have decided to put the place on the market
- In terms of a periodic tenancy, the landlord must give the tenant at least 63 days' notice to end the periodic tenancy if reasons provided in the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 apply. Otherwise, 90 days notice must be given to the tenant if they want to end the tenancy for one of the allowable reasons listed in the Act
- Rent and bond records must be kept for seven years after the tax year to which they relate
Aside from these landlord rights and responsibilities, here are other important things you should know:
- In case of emergency, the landlord can enter the rental place without informing the tenant
- The landlord can enter the rental home at other times if the tenant permits
- Test tenants for meth while living there, provided that the landlord has given 48 hours notice
As a tenant, when renting a property, you must comply with the following:
- Make sure to pay your rent on time
- Keep the property clean and tidy
- If there are damages or repairs, make sure to inform your landlords right away
- You're responsible for paying for your utilities such as electricity, internet, gas, etc. There are some landlords that offer free internet or power, so this will still depend on what you've agreed upon on the contract.
- If your contract is done, make sure to leave the property clean and free of your stuff.
- Give back all keys to your landlord when you move out
- Leave all items owned by the landlords when you move out
As a tenant, you are not allowed to do the following:
- You must not stop paying rent if the landlord hasn't done repairs to the place.
- You must not do any damage to the place and its surroundings.
- Avoid making loud noises or disturb the neighbors and other tenants.
- Don’t make any alterations to the place without the landlord's written consent.
- The property must not be used for any illegal purpose.
- You must not have more than the agreed maximum number of occupants written in the tenancy agreement.
For both landlords and tenants:
- Both must make sure that the tenancy agreement is in writing.
- Both must keep their contact details up-to-date.
- Both are not allowed to change the locks without informing the other first.
What are some of the things that could get me evicted by my landlord?
Here are some reasons that your landlord could evict you:
- If you're 2 or more weeks behinds in your rent
- If you've done huge damage to the property. It is recommended that you take photos of the rental place before moving in and try to keep the place in the same condition to avoid getting evicted.
- If you sublet your place without your landlord's knowledge
Can my landlord evict me anytime?
Note that if you're in a periodic tenancy, your landlord has the right to evict you at any point. They must provide you at least 90 days written notice or as little as 42 days if their reasons are any of the following:
- If they or a family member of the landlord is moving into the property
- If one of the landlord's employees is moving into the property
- If the property has been sold
Can landlords increase the rent whenever they want?
Yes, they can increase rent for various reasons, but not whenever they want. They can only increase rent once every 12 months and must provide at least 60 days written notice.
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