New Tenancy Laws In Effect Today

aerial view of tauranga

As we explained in our last blog, new tenancy laws are coming into effect today.  These new tenancy regulations have caused quite a bit of concern among landlords across New Zealand as the ‘balance of power’ appears to be shifting towards the tenant’s rights.  However, we believe that an effective relationship between property managers, landlords and tenants, will ensure that all new laws will be successfully applied and will result in a positive outcome and tenancy for everyone.

So, what are the changes and what do they mean?  In summary:

The changes which come into effect today are aimed at providing more security and power for tenants.

• Landlords will need a proper reason when they end someone’s periodic tenancy.

• All fixed-term tenancy agreements will automatically move onto a periodic tenancy, unless otherwise agreed.

• Tenants can make minor changes (painting the walls, hanging up pictures etc) and landlords can’t refuse.

• Rental property adverts must show a price, to avoid bid-offs between renters which drives prices up. Connect Realty has always done this.

• Tenants can request fibre broadband, and if it’s of no added cost to landlords, they can’t refuse.

• Successful applicants at the Tenancy Tribunal can now apply to have name suppression so they won’t be blacklisted.

• Landlords must consider all tenancy assignment requests, and not decline them unreasonably.

 • Landlords must provide a tenancy agreement in writing.  Again, something we have always provided for tenants.

• The regulator (the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) will be granted new powers to take action against parties not meeting their obligation.

• The Tenancy Tribunal can now impose fines of up to $100,000 where previously the maximum fine was $50,000.

 If you have any questions about these changes, please contact our team at Connect Realty.  We are happy to sit down with both landlords and tenants to discuss how these changes may affect you.

Phase 2 Of New Tenancy Laws – Property Management Update

As you are aware from our newsletters, Tenancy laws in New Zealand are under a process of substantial changes.  It is important that both landlords and tenants understand the recent changes to tenancy law and how this will affect them.

All landlords, including boarding house landlords, must comply with the laws in the Residential Tenancies Act.  The changes will happen at three key dates:

Phase 1: (already in force) 12 August 2020
Phase 2: 11 February 2021
Phase 3: By 11 August 2021

Here is a summary of Phase 1 law changes that are already in force (from 12 August 2020):

1.Transitional and emergency housing is exempt from the Act where the housing is:

  • funded (wholly or partly) by a government department, or
  • provided under the Special Needs Grants Programme.

This exemption is applicable for all people (new and existing clients) in transitional and emergency housing that meets the criteria above.  Providers of transitional and emergency housing will still be able to opt into parts of the Act if they wish, by agreeing in writing with the client which parts will apply.

2. From 12 August 2020, rent increases are limited to once every 12 months. This is a change from once every 180 days (six months). Our rent increases webpage has more information on how this rule will apply.  Any rent increase notices given to tenants from 12 August 2020 must comply with the new 12-month rule. If a notice was given before 12 August 2020, it is still within the 180-day rule.


Phase 2 law changes will take effect on 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 are available to landlords under a periodic tenancy and the required notice periods will change.

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 is 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) has 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.

Phase 3 law changes will take effect by 11 August 2021.  Tenancies can be terminated if family violence or landlord assault has occurred.
The below provisions must come into effect by 11 August 2021, but may come in earlier if the Government agrees (using an Order in Council):

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.

For more information about these changes and any other property management questions, please call our team.  Otherwise, you can visit the below websites for more detailed information:

More information about the reform of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986  (Ministry of Housing and Urban Development)

Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020  (New Zealand Legislation website)

Investment Property Maintenance

With the arrival of spring now is the perfect time to get your investment property looking its best, including lawns and gardens and any necessary repair work to outside areas.  A good place to start is removing any winter build-up of moss and mould around your rental property.  Driveways and decks can become very slippery and may be hazardous for your tenants, particularly areas that have been shaded over winter.  Driveways and decks can usually be waterblasted to remove moss and mould build-up. Products such as wet & forget are usually very effective for moss as is sugar soap for mould. Wash the exterior of your house, remove cobwebs and clean the windows to do away with any traces of the wet, cold winter. You might also need to fix minor problems such as decks or weatherboards that need replacement.

Property maintenance also includes ensuring your investment property is meeting all the necessary safety standards according to building code and Council regulations – particularly in relation to fencing around pools and laws about pergolas and decks. The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act states that all private outdoor pools must be fenced unless the walls of the pool are more than 1.2m above the ground, or the maximum depth is 400mm or less. The fence must surround the area immediately around the pool only. Gates should close and latch automatically. Older swimming pools are also required to adhere to the current standards, the most common reasons pool fences failed compliance is because they are not high enough, had gaps or gates that are not self-latching.

Another area where you need to be prudent is building consents. As a result of the Christchurch earthquake new building codes were introduced for decks, pergolas and other additions to your property. These new standards aim to protect residents and the public from ‘unsafe’ building practices. For your Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa property please see the Tauranga City Council guidelines which outline when a consent is needed.

If you have any questions relating to this blog please feel free to phone on 0800 333 221, as your Property Managers we are more than happy to give advice or put you in contact with the correct agency.

Property Investment in 2020

The following article is copied from the Bayleys newsroom, published in 3rd July 2020:


“Where to for property investors?”

Where the effects of border closures on rental demand are offset by record-low interest rates, Bayleys property reporter Katharina Charles investigates what the new ‘sweet spot’ for investors looks like in a COVID-19 economy.

Fears New Zealand’s COVID-19-related border closures would have a disastrous effect on our rental market are beginning to abate as latest data from Statistics New Zealand shows residency visa approvals are returning to normal numbers.

The news is positive for property investors that have endured an uncertain few months given rising unemployment, the introduction of emergency regulation, and ongoing compliance relating to the Healthy Homes Bill and proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.

While an increase of policy targeting property speculation has given some investors pause for thought, investment into residential property remains the favoured mode of wealth creation for Kiwis attracted by long-term capital gains and the tangible nature of residential assets.

Influence of COVID-19

Trade Me Property spokesperson Aaron Clancy told Good Returns that the company’s latest rental data indicated the wider New Zealand rental market was beginning to return to pre-COVID levels, despite of continued restrictions at our borders.

“Kiwis returned to their new normal in May, and we saw both supply and demand for rentals bounce back after a turbulent few months,” Clancy told the publication.

Where vacancy rates hit double digits across areas like Auckland’s central city, Rotorua and Queenstown, the rental picture has become a little brighter following renewed business confidence and further financial relief announcements by the government.

“So far it looks like both tenants and landlords have confidence in the market,” Clancy said.

Tenant preferences drive rental decisions

Where the absence of international students and short-term travellers has hit the apartment sector particularly hard contributing to temporarily higher vacancy rates, the trend toward owner-occupied stock has offered a cushion for the blow.

Attractive rental yields are still being achieved across the country, aided by the long-term trend of rising weekly rents and record low interest rates which have made borrowing for a mortgage more affordable than ever before.

For investors, a property that attracts quality tenants is the most desirable attribute, and today, tenants are searching for modern properties in well-located areas with access to amenities and transport routes.

Home sweet home

Where presently there is a shortage of residential property on the market for sale, property owners are likely to hold on to quality assets. However, as rental returns and the possibility of capital gains are more attractive than bank deposit rates, we expect to see a good appetite for continued investment.

The consensus across the investment market-place appears to be that the loss of specific tenant groups such as short-term holiday renters and international students are being offset by returning expatriate Kiwis searching for rental properties, and movement of New Zealand residents seeking employment and lifestyle opportunities.

As these New Zealanders return home and displaced employees move locations in search of job opportunities, Bayleys expects that well-positioned one-bedroom apartments in suburban and city-fringe locations across main centres, as well as three-bedroom homes, will yield the best rental results for property investors over the next 12-months.

This article can be found at the following link:

Tips for Selecting a Property Manager

When selecting the right Property Manager to manage your investment property it’s important that you consider the following factors:

  • That your Property Manager accurately appraises your rental property to ensure you are getting the best return on your investment.
  • That the turn around time to rent your property to quality tenants is fast and efficient, keeping your vacancy period to a minimum.
  • That your Property Manager understands the importance of good service and presentation to attract the right tenant, who in turn will pay the rent on time and respect the property.
  • That your Property Management company knows the importance of thorough tenant screening and also induction processes, to ensure new tenants are well educated on expectations and tenancy laws.
  • That the Property Manager believes that the rent must be paid on time every time and educates the Tenant accordingly.
  • That all repairs and maintenance issues are dealt with promptly and effectively, as they are observed or reported by the Tenant.
  • The property is kept well maintained and that there is a high level of cleanliness at property inspections, and that they quickly follow up any issues with the Tenant.
  • That the Property Manager ensures the property is vacated satisfactorily to a high standard of cleanliness, comparing the property to a comprehensive written condition report and a variety of digital photos taken at the tenancy start.

If you feel your current Property Manager is not providing this service please feel free to contact our team at Connect Realty 0800 333 221. Our business and reputation are built on providing a professional, thorough, and accountable service. If you have a property in Tauranga or other parts of the Bay then we can offer all the management services you need.

Deadline extended for healthy homes standards compliance statement

The deadline for landlords providing a compliance statement for the healthy homes standards has been extended from 1 July 2020 to 1 December 2020.

The compliance statement is an addition to tenancy agreements that provides detailed information about how a property meets the healthy homes standards. It helps tenants to see how their landlord is working towards being compliant.

The healthy homes standards became law on 1 July 2019. The standards require landlords to meet new rules in relation to heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draught stopping.

The deadline was extended in response to COVID-19, which impacted landlords’ ability to access their properties and allow tradespeople to carry out inspections required to complete the compliance statement.

The extended deadline will not affect any of the dates by which rental properties have to comply with the healthy homes standards. The delayed deadline refers only to the inclusion of a detailed statement of current compliance. The remaining deadlines are not being changed.

The compliance timeline for the healthy homes standards remains the same:

  • 1 July 2021 – private landlords must ensure that their rental properties comply with the healthy homes standards within 90 days of any new tenancy.
  • 1 July 2021 – all boarding houses must comply with the healthy homes standards.
  • 1 July 2023 – all Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) houses and registered Community Housing Provider houses must comply with the healthy homes standards.
  •  1 July 2024 – all rental homes must comply with the healthy home standards.

The template for landlords to use for their healthy homes standards compliance statement is available on this website. [PDF, 766 KB]

Tenancy Services will continue to produce information and tools to assist landlords to comply with the healthy homes standards.

The free downloadable residential tenancy agreement template and boarding house agreement templates will also be updated and published before 1 December 2020.

For more information call our office during business hours.

Alert Level 2 Guidance for Landlords and Tenants

On 14 May 2020, New Zealand moved to Alert Level 2.

What will change at Alert Level 2?

  • Tenants are able to move to a new rental property. Removal companies can assist with moving, with some conditions: movers will have to comply with physical distancing, personal hygiene and surface cleaning guidance and should keep records for contact tracing purposes.
  • Friends and family can help tenants move. If they are well known to the tenant, physical distancing procedures are not required. However, we recommend that personal hygiene and surface cleaning procedures are still adhered to and that those moving record the names and contact details of people who helped.
  • In-person inspections of occupied or vacant rental properties can take place. Landlords and tenants should adhere to physical distancing, personal hygiene and surface cleaning guidance and should keep records for contact tracing purposes.
  • Tenants cannot unreasonably refuse an inspection, however for those who are considered at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, that could be reasonable grounds for refusal. The list of people at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 can be found on the Ministry of Health website  .
  • Maintenance can be undertaken. Physical distancing and hygiene guidance should be followed when inside homes, including surface cleaning on the area that is being worked on. Records should be kept for contact tracing purposes.
  • Open homes are permitted under Alert Level 2 with the tenant’s consent as long as the guidance on physical distancing, personal hygiene and surface cleaning for Alert Level 2 is observed. Records should be kept for contact tracing purposes.
  • The Real Estate Authority has developed guidance for in-person inspections for properties for sale. These guidelines should be applied to rental viewings. Conducting real estate business during COVID-19 alert level 2 (Real Estate Authority)  

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has information on what it means for landlords and tenants to move from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2.

Landlords and property managers can find up-to-date information for businesses on the website  .

More information on safe practices at Alert Level 2 is available on the WorkSafe website  .

Alert Level 3 Guidance for Landlords and Tenants

The country has now moved into Alert Level 3. Find out what this new level means for owners and tenants. If you have any questions regarding your own rental property, please contact our team directly.

What will change at Alert Level 3?

  • Tenants are allowed to move to a new house and moving companies will be able to help tenants. Movers will have to adhere to physical distancing rules and should keep records for contact tracing purposes.
  • Routine inspections of rental properties cannot take place unless it is an emergency situation, such as a landlord needing to confirm that emergency maintenance is required.
  • Maintenance can only occur in emergencies or with tenant approval. This might include plumbers, electricians and tradespeople who can work on, and inside rental properties.
  • We recommend landlords arrange for professional services to clean or undertake maintenance of their vacant rental property.
  • Open homes where multiple people view a property cannot take place.
  • In-person viewings for rental properties can take place under Alert Level 3 with some restrictions. If the property is tenanted, landlords will need approval from the tenants and viewings should only occur when the tenants are not on the property.
  • During viewings, physical distance should be maintained and contact with surfaces kept at a minimum. Anything that is touched should be wiped with disinfectant. In-person viewings should be limited to two per day per property.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has further information on what it means for landlords and tenants to move from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3.

Landlords and property managers can find up-to-date information for businesses on the website  .

More information on safe practices at Alert Level 3 is available on the WorkSafe website.  

COVID-19 – Rent Increase Freeze & Tenancy Terminations

Information on the rent increase freeze and tenancy termination regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For general information on COVID-19 visit the government’s central website.

On 23 March 2020, the Government announced a freeze of rent increases and an extension of no-cause terminations. This has been applied as law through the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Amendment Act, which came into effect on 26 March 2020.

These measures will support New Zealanders to stay in their rental properties with a six-month freeze on residential rent increases and increased protection from having their tenancies terminated.

The key changes for landlords and tenants to be aware of are:

  • There is now a freeze on rent increases.
  • A rent increase notice from a landlord will not have the effect of increasing a tenant’s rent, unless the rent increase has already taken effect.
  • Tenancies will not be terminated from 26 March, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances, regardless of when the notice was provided.
  • Tenants will still be able to terminate their tenancy as normal.
  • Tenants will have the ability to revoke termination notices that they have already given, in case they need to stay in the tenancy.

The timeframes for the new measures are:

  • The measures took effect on 26 March 2020.
  • The rent freeze applies for an initial period of six months (to 26 September 2020, unless extended).
  • The protections against terminations will apply for an initial period of three months (to 25 June 2020, unless extended).
  • At the end of both initial periods, the Government will evaluate whether they need to be extended.

Importantly, where a tenant has symptoms of COVID-19, or is confirmed as positive, this is not grounds for a landlord to terminate a tenancy. Nor is a tenant required to notify their landlord if they test positive for COVID-19. However, we encourage tenants to advise the landlord if the landlord needs to attend the property while the tenant is self-isolating, for example, if the landlord needs to undertake urgent repairs at the property.

For full information on the new measures and what they mean for landlords and tenants, please visit:

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development COVID-19 information page  

The Minister’s announcement on the Beehive website  


Property Rental: Repairs and damages

If something gets damaged in a rental property or needs repairing, it’s important to know who’s responsible for fixing and paying for the problem.

Tenants must tell the landlord straight away if they are aware that something needs to be repaired or maintained, no matter how it happened or who caused the damage.  

An important point to note, the tenant is not responsible for repairs or damage arising from burglaries, natural events (such as storms, floods, and earthquakes), or fair wear and tear.

Tenants need to tell the landlord if they know of any damage or need for repairs. If the tenant does not notify the landlord as soon as possible the landlord may be able to claim some of the costs of repairing the damage from the tenant if it gets worse.

If a landlord or their property manager damages a tenant’s goods, the tenant can ask them to repair those goods or to pay the cost of replacement or repair.

Intentional damage

If a tenant (or their invited guests) intentionally damage the landlord’s property, the tenant must tell the landlord. The landlord can ask the tenant to repair the damage or to pay the cost of replacement or repair.

Careless damage

On 27 August 2019, new legislation took effect, which will affect tenants’ liability for damage.

If tenants or their guests carelessly damage a rental property, they are liable for the cost of the damage up to four weeks’ rent or the landlord’s insurance excess (if applicable), whichever is lower.

Tenants on income-related rents will be liable for careless damage up to four weeks’ market rent or the insurance excess (if applicable), whichever is lower.

Landlords can’t ask for or accept more than that limit.

Insurance companies can’t chase tenants on the landlord’s behalf for the cost of repairs for careless damage.

If the landlord and tenant can’t agree who should pay, either can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal.

If any damage occurs, it is for the landlord to prove that the damage is not fair wear and tear. Following this, the tenant must prove that the damage was careless (and not intentional). You should support your application by including copies of:

  • relevant insurance policies
  • photos of the damage
  • receipts or quotes for repair

If the state of disrepair is likely to cause injury to people or property, a tenant can have repair work done and ask the landlord to pay them for it. A landlord must also pay the tenant back for any urgent repair work the tenant had to have done, as long as the tenant made reasonable attempts to let the landlord know first.

What About Fair Wear and Tear

Fair wear and tear refers to the gradual deterioration of things that are used regularly in a property when people live in it.

A tenant is not responsible for normal fair wear and tear to the property or any chattels provided by the landlord when they use them normally. The tenant is responsible for any intentional or careless damage.

An example of this would be where a stove element wears out from normal cooking. This is fair wear and tear. However, if the stove was being used to heat the kitchen and stopped working properly, this would not be considered normal use.

Examples of what is usually considered fair wear and tear are:

  • flooring getting worn
  • taps and washers in the kitchen, bathroom or laundry wearing out or leaking

 Examples of what is not normally considered fair wear and tear are:

  • burn marks or drink stains on the carpet
  • drawing on wallpaper.

For more information please call our office to discuss with our team or visit Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019