Changes to tenancy laws: What you need to know

The biggest reform of tenancy laws in New Zealand came into effect on 11 February. The government aims to provide a better balance between the rights of tenants and the interests of landlords.

Here’s a quick guide to the main changes and what they mean in practice.

Security of tenure

Perhaps the most significant change is that landlords can no longer end a tenancy without reason. The new law does away with so-called 'no clause' notices. Landlords must now have a reason for ending the tenancy and the notice periods have also changed.

A landlord should give 63 days’ notice if they or a family member need to move into the property. And if they want to sell, redevelop or carry out extensive renovations, then 90 days’ notice is required.

There is still provision for landlords to evict problematic tenants. They can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end a tenancy if the rent is unpaid for 21 days or more, and if the tenant has caused significant damage or is using the property for illegal activities.

In repeated anti-social behaviour cases, landlords also have to provide evidence of three separate anti-social events in a 90-day period.

Further changes are being introduced from 11 August. Renters experiencing domestic violence will be able to leave with just two days’ notice so long as they can provide evidence of the abuse.

Tenant alterations to properties

The new law allows tenants to make minor modifications at their own expense. Landlords cannot decline requests if the proposed change is small. However, they can refuse if the alteration cannot be easily changed back at the end of the tenancy. This means that tenants are now able to make changes like hanging pictures and installing baby gates.

Tenants are also able to request fibre internet. The installation cost is the tenant's responsibility, and landlords can only refuse if it will affect the property's structure.

Rent prices

The new legislation has outlawed rental bidding wars. This means landlords must market properties with a clear price tag. Renters can still offer more for a property they really want; however, landlords cannot start a bidding war.

These changes are the most significant reforms to the country's tenancy laws in 35 years. If you are a landlord or a renter, make sure you are fully aware of what it means for you. Check out the government’s Tenancy Services website for more detailed information.