Tenancy Agreements in New Zealand – What You Should Know

A tenancy agreement is a contract between a landlord and a tenant, which outlines the conditions of a particular tenancy. Both the landlord and tenant must sign the tenancy agreement and the landlord must ensure that the tenant receives a copy before the tenancy commences. Among other things, the agreement must specify the names of the parties, the amount of the tenancy bond, a list of chattels, the date the tenancy will start and end (if it has a fixed term) and a street address for the landlord. Under the Residential Tenancies Act, all tenets entered into must have a written tenancy agreement. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act of 2010 extended the Act's coverage to include boarding house tenancies.

There are three different types of tenancy.

A fixed-term tenancy runs for a period of time set out in the tenancy agreement. Neither the tenant nor the landlord may end the tenancy before the term is up. A periodic tenancy continues until either the landlord or tenant brings it to an end by giving notice. There's a correct way to do this. Periodic tenancies are probably the most common form of tenancy. A service tenancy occurs where an employer provides accommodation for an employee.

The Tenancy bond

A Tenancy Bond is an amount paid by the tenant and held by the Department of Building and Housing. This amount can be up to the equivalent of four weeks' rent. The Landlord must give the tenant a receipt for any bond money paid, and then send the bond money to the Department of Building and Housing, along with the Bond lodgement form, within 23 working days of receiving it. This money is one of the protections that landlords are entitled to under the law. If things go wrong during the tenancy the landlord can ask to keep some or all of this money to cover costs. (If a claim is greater than the bond, a tenant may be ordered to pay the extra as well.) In the case of a boarding house tenancy, a boarding house landlord is not required to lodge the bond with the Department of Building and Housing if the bond is the equivalent to one weeks' rent or less. When the Department of Building and Housing receives a bond, they will send the landlord and the tenant an acknowledgment letter and a Bond refund form. The Department of Building and Housing holds the bond money until the tenancy ends, either either the tenant or landlord may apply for it to be refunded.

Tenancy bond refunds

It is important to inform the Department of Building of any changes to the original parties who signed the bond lodgement form. When the department receives a refund request, the signatures are checked against those on the original bond lodgement form. It is important to update the signatures if there is a change to either the landlord or tenant. Without this update, bond refunds could have been delayed. If there is a change in tenants (with the original tenant being replaced by someone else) a change of tenant form needs to be completed. If there is a change in Landlord, the same applies.

Ideally both the tenant and landlord should go through the house or flat, using the property inspection report again, and check that nothing is damaged or broken. (The tenant is not responsible for normal wear and tear to the house or flat or any possessions let with it, but it is responsible for any intentional or careless damage). Some or all of the bond can be claimed for anything left undone by the tenant in relation to the tenancy, such as unpaid rent, damage to the property, items missing, cleaning or gardening.

When the inspection is done and everything is found to be in order, the bond refund form must be completed and signed by both tenant and landlord, and sent to the Department of Building and Housing. Refunds are made by direct credit, and bank account numbers must be supplied on the bond refund form. Bond refunds usually take up to 3 working days to process. A Tenancy bond can also be transferred to a new tenancy.

If the tenant and the landlord can not agree on the amount or costs that should be deducted from the bond, then either the tenant or the landlord (or both) can make application to the Tenancy Tribunal. The application will be given to a mediator, who will contact the parties involved and arrange a mediation, which may be by phone or in person. Both landlord and tenant will be able to discuss the claim being made on the bond and, with the mediator's help, be able to reach an agreement. The mediator can then issue an order regarding the payment of the bond. If no settlement is reached in mediation, the application will be set down for a hearing in the Tenancy Tribunal.

Source by Jonet Warhurst

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