A dummy’s guide to understanding the New Zealand Residential Tenancy Act (RTA)

By Mike Henderson / March 10, 2016 / Share:


Practicing property lawyer? No? Unless you happen to specialise in property law as a profession, it’s unlikely you will have perused all the numerous clauses of the RTA at your leisure. Unless you are studying to become a property lawyer it is unlikely you will have much of a desire to do so either. 

While gaining legal advice or discussing key areas of the RTA with a professional (i.e a property manager) is your best course of action, we’ve dissected a few key areas below so you can at least navigate the lingo.

It goes without saying...

Being aware of your motivating factors will help you in your journey to purchase – are you looking mainly for rental income? Capital gain? A future home to retire in? Having a list of your property non-negotiables makes it a simple case of referring to these at every open home.

In the know.

Formalities – both parties must sign a Tenancy Agreement

Pay up! – the tenant must pay rent on time

Keeping it legal – the tenant must not do anything illegal at the property or let anyone else do anything illegal

Neat freak – the property must be clean and tidy prior to the tenant moving in, and the tenant must keep it that way

Maintain their haven – landlords must not interfere with the tenants peace, comfort and privacy.

I never knew that!

Urban disturbance – the tenant must not disturb neighbours or other tenants

Shelve that question – a landlord cannot unreasonably refuse to allow tenants to put up fixtures, such as shelves or artwork

Lock shock – a tenant cannot change any locks without consulting with the landlord first

A wakeup call on maintenance – landlords need to give 24 hours’ notice to do necessary repairs and do them between the rather civilised hours of 8am and 7pm

Just popping by – while landlords must give 48 hours’ notice to inspect the property, a landlord may come onto the section without any notice as long as they respect the tenants’ privacy.

Tell me more about…

Damage – a tenant must fix any damage they or their visitors cause on purpose or by being careless, or pay for someone else to fix it

Subletting – tenants may sublet or assign their tenancy to someone else, unless otherwise explicitly stated in the Tenancy Agreement

Rent increases – the tenant must be notified in writing at least 60 days prior to any rent increase

Termination – tenants must give a minimum of 21 days’ notice in writing to end a periodic tenancy. Landlords must give between 42 and 90 days depending on the reason for termination

Health & safety – rental properties must comply with current health and safety laws: it’s an element of the Act which does get amended so you’ll need to ensure your knowledge remains current.

While reading and understanding the above doesn’t mean you’re now qualified to hand out legal advice, you’ll be a little more clued up on some of the key points of the RTA. For an in-depth look at the rights and requirements of tenants and landlords, further information on becoming a landlord or a chat with a professional, here are your next steps:

1. Check out Tenancy Services here

2. Read the our "My House. Your Castle." eBook

3. Talk to a professional by contacting us or get a free rent appraisal


Topics: Property Management