Rights & obligations of tenants & landlords 

What are my rights as a tenant?

You have a right to enjoy your property privately, undisturbed by others. The landlord has to respect your peace and privacy. If they don’t, the Tenancy Tribunal can fine your landlord. 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?

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

You must also pay water usage charges if:

  • the water supplier charges separately for the water , and
  • there is a meter to measure how much water was used

Note that the landlord is responsible for paying any fixed water charges.

During your tenancy, you must not:

  • intentionally or carelessly damage the premises
  • tamper with the smoke alarms so that they are prevented from working (from 1 July 2016)
  • use the premises for anything illegal
  • 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 outlined in the agreement or allowed 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 (from 1 July 2016)
  • 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 your personal items from the house or flat when you leave
  • leaving the house or flat reasonably tidy, and remove 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 pieces of furniture provided by the landlord

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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.

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 and signed tenancy agreement
  • 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 for their rent payments if these payments aren’t recorded in some other way (e.g. if the rent is paid to you in cash)
  • provide written notice of any rent increase
  • take reasonable steps to make sure none of your tenants 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
  • 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
  • inform your tenants if you put the property on the market  

There are also requirements relating to smoke alarms and insulation, which apply from 1 July 2016 and 1 July 2019.

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 from 1 July 2016?

From 1 July 2016 the landlord 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.

Insulation that was installed before 1 July 2016 should have met or exceeded the NZS4218P:1977 standard at the time it was installed (these are the standards that came into force in 1978 when insulation became mandatory for new builds).  

To determine the condition of insulation that was installed before 1 July 2016, the landlord needs to check it against regulations 13 (for ceiling insulation), 16 (for under floor insulation) and 17 (determining whether it is in reasonable condition) of the Residential Tenancies (Smoke alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016. Landlords can choose to engage an insulation installer to assess the state of the insulation.

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What are the insulation requirements for private rental homes from 1 July 2019?

From 1 July 2019, it will be mandatory for all rental homes to have ceiling and underfloor insulation that is up to a certain standard. Any insulation installed after 1 July 2016 must meet or exceed the NZS4246:2006 standard

Insulation that was installed before 1 July 2016 should have met or exceeded the NZS4218P:1977 standard at the time it was installed and must still be in reasonable condition. If it is not in reasonable condition, it will need to be replaced to a standard of insulation that meets or exceeds the NZS4246:2006 standard (this requirement applied to income-related rent properties from 1 July 2016).

If it is not practical to install insulation into an existing building, due to its physical design or structure, then the requirement to install insulation in those spaces can be delayed until access to them is possible (e.g. when the landlord makes renovations to the house).

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 from 1 July 2016?

From 1 July 2016, 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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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,

You should also tell Inland Revenue if you are moving overseas.

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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 gain 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. More information about this is on our Paying Rent page.