The Residential Tenancies Act 1986
There have been a number of major amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. To help you navigate these, a summary of the changes is below:
Changes Effective Now
Tenancies can be terminated if family violence or landlord assault has occurred
• Family violence: tenants experiencing family violence will be able to terminate a tenancy without financial penalty.
• Physical assault: a landlord will be able to issue a 14-day notice to terminate the tenancy if the tenant has assaulted the landlord, the owner, a member of their family, or the landlord’s agent, and the Police have laid a charge against the tenant in respect of the assault.
Rent can only be increased every 12 months
• Rent increases: are limited to once every 12 months. This is a change from once every 180 days (six months).
COVID-19 legislation about rent increases
• From 26 March 2020 to 25 September 2020: there was a freeze on rent increases that meant landlords couldn’t increase rent during that period.
• From 26 September 2020: the freeze on rent increases is no longer in effect.
Changes Effective 1 December 2020
Healthy Homes Standard
• Healthy Homes: Landlords must include a statement of their current level of compliance with the healthy homes standards in most new or renewed tenancy agreements.
Changes Effective 11 February 2021
Changes to multiple parts of tenancy law
From 11 February 2021, multiple changes to tenancy legislation will take effect. The changes will cover:
• Security of rental tenure – Landlords will not be able to end a periodic tenancy without cause by providing 90 days’ notice. New termination grounds will be available to landlords under a periodic tenancy and the required notice periods will change.
Landlords will only be able to terminate periodic tenancies on the following grounds:
o The landlord issued a tenant three notices for separate anti-social acts in a 90-day period. (Anti-social acts include harassment; and any intentional act that causes significant alarm, distress or nuisance).
o The landlord gave notice that a tenant was at least five working days late with their rent payment on three separate occasions within a 90-day period.
o The landlord will suffer greater hardship than the tenant if the tenancy continues.
o Existing provisions relating to rent arrears, damage, assault and breaches still apply
o 14 Days’ Notice:
The tenant physically assaulted the landlord or their family and the Police laid a charge.
o 63 Days’ Notice:
The owner, or their family, requires the property to live in.
The landlord customarily uses the premises for occupation by employees or contractors and the premises are needed for that purpose (and this is stated in the tenancy agreement).
o 90 Day’s Notice:
The owner intends to put the premises on the market.
The property has been sold with a requirement by the owner for vacant possession.
The landlord is not the owner of the property, and the landlord’s interest ends.
The premises need to be vacant to facilitate the use of nearby land for a business activity (and this is stated in the tenancy agreement).
The landlord wants to change the use of the premises to a commercial use.
The landlord intends to carry out extensive renovations at the property and it would be impractical for the tenant to live there during that process.
The premises are to be demolished
• Changes for fixed-term tenancies – All fixed-term tenancy agreements will convert to periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed term unless the parties agree otherwise, the tenant gives a 28-day notice, or the landlord gives notice in accordance with the termination grounds for periodic tenancies.
• Making minor changes – Tenants can ask to make changes to the property and landlords must not decline if the change is minor. Landlords must respond to a tenant’s request to make a change within 21 days.
• Prohibitions on rental bidding – Rental properties cannot be advertised without a rental price listed, and landlords cannot invite or encourage tenants to bid on the rental (pay more than the advertised rent amount).
• Fibre broadband – Tenants can request to install fibre broadband, and landlords must agree if it can be installed at no cost to them, unless specific exemptions apply.
• Privacy and access to justice – A suppression order can remove names and identifying details from published Tenancy Tribunal decisions if a party who has applied for a suppression order is wholly or substantially successful, or if this is in the interests of the parties and the public interest.
• Assignment of tenancies – All requests to assign a tenancy must be considered. Landlords cannot decline unreasonably. If a residential tenancy agreement prohibits assignment, it is of no effect.
• Landlord records – Not providing a tenancy agreement in writing will be an unlawful act and landlords will need to retain and provide new types of information.
• Enforcement measures being strengthened – The Regulator (the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) will have new measures to take action against parties who are not meeting their obligations.
• Changes to Tenancy Tribunal jurisdiction – The Tenancy Tribunal can hear cases and make awards up to $100,000. This is a change from $50,000.
Changes Effective 1 July 2021
Healthy Homes Standards
• Private landlords: must ensure their rental properties comply with the healthy homes standards within 90 days of any new, or renewed, tenancy.
• Boarding houses / Student Flats with 6 or more Tenants: must comply with the healthy homes standards.
Changes Effective 1 July 2024
Healthy Homes Standards
• All rental homes: must comply with the healthy homes standards.
Tenancy Agreements and other Forms
There have been a vast number of changes to the Residential Tenancies Act over the last couple of years, and we encourage all landlords to use the latest tenancy agreements, forms and templates available from Tenancy Services.