Rights & obligations of tenants & landlords 

What are my rights as a tenant?

You have a right to enjoy the property you are renting privately, undisturbed by others (including the landlord) and to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal if you have a dispute with your landlord that can’t be resolved informally. You also have rights regarding rent, bond, property inspections and other renting costs.

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What are my obligations and responsibilities as a tenant?

During your tenancy, you must not:

  • intentionally or carelessly damage the premises;
  • tamper with the smoke alarms so that they are prevented from working; 
  • use the premises for any illegal activity;
  • disturb the neighbours;
  • have more people living in the premises than are specified in the agreement;
  • change the locks, attach fixtures or make any renovations, alterations or additions to the premises unless allowed in the tenancy agreement or with written permission from the landlord.

As a tenant you are responsible for:

  • paying the rent on time;
  • making sure the house or flat is used mainly for living purposes;
  • ensuring that the smoke alarms installed in the property have working batteries;
  • keeping the house or flat reasonably clean and tidy;
  • being a good neighbour (i.e. not disturbing your neighbours or other tenants); 
  • letting the landlord know as soon as damage is discovered or repairs are needed;
  • leaving when the tenancy comes to an end;
  • removing  all of your personal items from the house or flat when you leave;
  • leaving the house or flat reasonably tidy, and removing all rubbish at the end of the tenancy;
  • returning the keys to the landlord at the end of the tenancy;
  • leaving any personal items or furnishings provided by the landlord.

Unless the landlord agrees in writing to pay for them, you are obliged to pay the power, gas and telephone charges.

You must also pay water usage charges if:

  • the water supplier charges separately for the water, 
  • there is a meter to measure how much water is used and 
  • only the tenants are using the water.

The water bill normally includes fixed charges as well as the metered charges. The landlord is responsible for paying the whole water bill and then asking for reimbursement of the metered charges from the tenants. More about this is on the Tenancy website.

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What are my rights as a landlord?

Check out our pages on rent, bond, property inspections and other renting costs to find out about landlords' rights in those areas.

As the landlord you have the right to:

  • enter the premises if you have the tenant’s permission (usually you have to give 48 hours’ notice), if there is an emergency, or if the Tenancy Tribunal has made an order that the landlord can enter the premises
  • receive rent when it is due
  • set an amount for bond money
  • inspect the premises when the tenant leaves
  • hold money back from the bond if there has been damage during the tenancy or if there is any rent owing from the tenants

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What are my obligations and responsibilities as a landlord?

As a landlord you must:

  • provide a written tenancy agreement that will be signed by you and your tenants;
  • provide the premises in a reasonably clean state;
  • keep the premises in a reasonable state of repair;
  • comply with building, health and safety requirements;
  • provide receipts to your tenants if these payments are paid to you in cash;
  • provide written notice of any rent increase;
  • take reasonable steps to make sure your tenants do not disturb each other (if you have tenants in neighbouring flats);
  • provide and maintain locks necessary to make the premises secure, and not change the locks without the tenant’s permission;
  • compensate the tenant for serious and urgent repairs that the tenant has had done, if the damage was not the tenant’s fault and the tenant made a reasonable attempt to contact you about the repairs;
  • give at least 48 hours’ notice if you want to inspect the house or flat and carry out the inspection between 8am and 7pm;
  • inform your tenants if you put the property on the market;
  • give the tenant at least 24 hours' notice if you need to do any repairs or maintenance, and do the work between 8am and 7pm;
  • ask your tenant’s permission and visit at a reasonable hour if you want to show a prospective buyer, tenant or registered valuer through the premises;
  • not use force, or threat of force, to enter or attempt to enter the premises while the tenant or anyone else is on the premises – it’s an offence to do so;
  • not interfere with the supply of gas, power, water, telephone services, or other services to the premises, unless it is necessary for maintenance or repair, or to prevent danger;
  • appoint an agent if you will be away from New Zealand for more than 21 consecutive days.

There are also requirements relating to smoke alarms and insulation.

For more information about any of these rights and obligations see the Tenancy Services website.

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What are the insulation requirements for private rental homes?

All tenancy agreements signed from 1 July 2016 must include in the tenancy agreement a statement about the insulation in the rental property:

  • whether there is any,
  • if insulation is present, what part of the house has insulation and what condition it is in.

There is an insulation statement template on the Tenancy Services website that landlords can use.

If insulation was installed in the home before 1 July 2016 it should be in reasonable condition and should have met a minimum R-values at the time it was installed:

  • R1.9 in the ceiling and R0.9 underfloor for a timber-framed home; 
  • R1.5 in the ceiling and R0.9 for a masonry home. 

(R-value is a measure of thermal resistance ie how well insulation resists the flow of heat. The higher the R-value the better the insulation.)

Landlords can choose to engage an insulation installer to assess the state of the insulation if they are concerned about the safety of doing it themselves.

If the insulation does not meet these minimum standards then the landlord will need to replace it with insulation that meets the NZS4246:2016 standard.

From 1 July 2019, it will be mandatory for all rental homes to have ceiling and underfloor insulation that meets or exceeds the NZS4246:2016 standard. 

For some buildings it may not be practical to install insulation due to their physical design or structure. In this case the landlord can delay installing insulation in the ceiling or underfloor spaces until access to them is possible (e.g. when the landlord makes renovations to the house). Read more about the exceptions.

You can find more information about the insulation requirements for rental homes on the Tenancy Services website.

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What are the requirements for smoke alarms in rental properties?

Smoke alarms must be installed in all rental homes. All smoke alarms installed after 1 July 2016 must be the ten-year, long-life models that comply with certain manufacturing standards.

There should be a smoke alarm within three metres of each bedroom; a smoke alarm in a self-contained caravan, sleep-out or similar; in a multi-storey property (e.g. apartments) there must be a smoke alarm on each level, within the unit.

You’ll find more information on the Tenancy Services website

The landlord is responsible for making sure smoke alarms are in working condition at the beginning of each new tenancy. The tenant is responsible for replacing the batteries in the alarm.

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Does the landlord have to provide heating to their tenants?

Under the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947 every room of the house or apartment must have “an approved form of heating”. However “an approved form of heating” is not defined in the Regulations. It could be a heat pump, wood or wood pellet burner, flued gas heater or a plug-in electric heater, or it may be enough to ensure that there are enough power points to allow the tenants to plug in their own heaters.

Providing tenants with effective heating, and keeping it well-maintained, can be good for the rental property, as it can reduce the risk of it suffering from damp and mould and could also enhance the tenants’ health and therefore their ability to work and pay the rent.

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Our rental was advertised as furnished – is the landlord responsible for the maintenance of those furnishings?

Any furnishings (e.g. curtains, washing machine) that are included with the rental property should be specified on the tenancy agreement, and while the tenant is expected to look after those items, the landlord has an obligation repair or replace them if they have been damaged or are broken (unless the damage was done by the tenants, intentionally or as a result of carelessness).

This includes wear and tear, so for example if the dishwasher is part of the rental and it stops working due to age then the landlord is obliged to fix it or replace it with one that works.

If you and your landlord are unable to agree over who is responsible for the furnishings either party can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the dispute.

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I’m a landlord and I’m going to be overseas for a while – what do I need to do?

If you own a rental property in New Zealand and will be out of the country for more than 21 consecutive days then by law you must appoint an agent who can act on your behalf. This means that if the tenant has any issues they would normally bring up with you (the landlord), they will need to contact your agent about (e.g. if your tenant needs to ask for repairs to be done). 

You can appoint anyone to be your agent, but preferably it should be someone who is fully aware of, and able to fulfil, their responsibilities as your agent. Some landlords choose to engage a professional property manager for this role; others appoint a friend or family member.

Once you have appointed an agent, you’ll need to:

  • advise your tenants about who the agent is and how they can contact the agent
  • fill out a change of landlord form for MBIE’s Tenancy Services
  • contact the Bond Centre and ask them to update their records with your agent’s name. This means that if your tenant leaves while you are overseas (and they have left the property in the same condition as when they moved in), they can still get their bond back.

When you return to New Zealand you’ll need to tell your tenant and Tenancy Services that you are back and taking over from your agent.

For more information call Tenancy Services on 0800 737 666,

If you are moving overseas you should also tell Inland Revenue.

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Am I allowed to cut a second key for the place I’m renting?

The landlord cannot specify how many keys you can cut. However if you cut an additional key for a visitor (e.g. a family member) to use, then you will be responsible if they misuse the key (e.g. to steal or damage property). If you leave the tenancy the landlord may ask you for all of the house keys including the new copies.

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I’m renting a house that’s for sale and the real estate agents want to keep bringing people through. Do I have to let them in?

The landlord needs to get your permission to show real estate agents or prospective buyers through the house, and they have to visit at a reasonable hour. You can only refuse your landlord entry on reasonable grounds, which can include a real estate agent coming too often.

If the landlord wants to hold an open home at the house, they have to discuss this with you to agree on some specific times and dates. You don’t have to agree to an open home and can, for example, insist that agents and prospective buyers only visit by appointment.

More information about what your rights are if your landlord is planning on selling the property you rent is on the Tenancy Services website.

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The place I’m renting needs lots of repairs. My landlord says if they get repairs done they’ll put my rent up to cover the costs. Can they do this?

Your landlord is obliged to keep the rental property in a reasonable state of repair, which means ensuring that any necessary repairs are completed. 

Your landlord is entitled to review your rent every 180 days – if they wish to increase your rent, they have to give you a minimum amount of notice. If you have a fixed tenancy however, then your landlord can’t change the rent unless it is specifically allowed for in the tenancy agreement.

However your landlord can increase the rent outside of the usual 180-day period if you agree to it. If you don’t agree to it, your landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to review the rent increase on the grounds that they have improved the property or changed the tenancy agreement to your benefit, or that the landlord has had unforeseen expenses since the last rent increase.

More information is on our Paying Rent page.