24 April 2020

This page answers questions landlords and tenants may have during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Updated on: 18 June 2020

For general information on COVID-19, visit the government’s central website.(external link)

On this page:

What are the new law changes on rent increases and ending tenancies?

On 23 March 2020, the Government announced a freeze of rent increases and protections against tenancy terminations. This has been applied as law through the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Act, which came into effect on 26 March 2020.

More information about this announcement

Rent increase freeze

As of 26 March 2020, there is a freeze on rent increases. This means that landlords can't increase rent for their rental properties. This will apply for an initial period of six months, from 26 March 2020 until 25 September 2020.

More information on rent increases

Tenancy terminations

The restrictions on ending a tenancy apply from 26 March 2020 to 25 June 2020.

During this time, landlords will not be able to end tenancies, regardless of when the notice was provided, except for some very limited circumstances. 

From 26 June 2020, landlords can give notice to terminate a tenancy under the normal Residential Tenancies Act provisions. Normal notice periods from the day it is given will apply.

More information on ending a tenancy

Alert Level 1 information for landlords and tenants

New Zealand is currently in Alert Level 1. Alert Level 1 began on 9 June 2020.

  • All restrictions on moving house, open homes, and maintenance and inspections are lifted.
  • It is recommended you continue to keep to basic hygiene measures used during higher alert levels, and that you keep a diary of your movements in the event of a second wave of infection. See the COVID-19 website for further information(external link).

Alert Level 2 information for landlords and tenants

  • 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.(external link)
  • 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. 

Questions and answers on Alert Level 2 (Ministry of Housing and Urban Development)(external link)

More information on specific topics is available on the Tenancy Services website:

Alert Level 3 information for landlords and tenants

  • Tenants are allowed to move to a new house and moving companies will be able to help. 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.
  • People should not be travelling between regions for the purpose of viewing a property.
  • Final inspections can take place if the tenants are not home and only with the tenant’s approval, or once the tenants have moved out. Tenants should take photos of the property’s condition before leaving.

Questions and answers about Alert Level 3 (Ministry of Housing and Urban Development)(external link)

More information on specific topics is available on the Tenancy Services website:

I/my tenants are having trouble paying rent, what are my options?

Due to loss of employment income, some tenants may experience issues paying their rent.

Tenants who can’t pay their rent should let their landlord know straight away. Be honest about the situation and see if you can agree on a payment plan. Government support is also available, depending on your circumstances.

Guidance for landlords and tenants on rent negotiation discussions

Landlords and tenants who reach an agreement can choose to have this formalised using the FastTrack resolution process, if they feel it’s necessary.

From 26 March to 25 June 2020, landlords can’t apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end the tenancy for rent arrears unless the tenant is at least 60 days behind in rent. The Tribunal must consider whether it would be fair in the circumstances to terminate the tenancy, taking into account whether the tenant made reasonable efforts to pay rent.

Tenants are still liable for rent and landlords can ask tenants to pay what is due. Landlords can also seek a monetary order from the Tribunal for rent arrears even though they can’t currently ask the Tribunal to terminate the tenancy if the rent is less than 60 days in arrears.  Landlords should try to reach an agreement with their tenants before taking this step.

More information on rent arrears and overdue rent

Information on the Government’s COVID-19 wage subsidy and leave payment scheme(external link)

Information on ending a tenancy

Information on support available from Work and Income NZ(external link)

I am a landlord, can I still do maintenance or inspect my rental property?

Alert Level 1

During Alert Level 1, routine inspections of rental properties can take place.

It is recommended you continue to keep to basic hygiene measures used during higher alert levels, and keep records for contact tracing purposes.

Alert Level 2

During Alert Level 2, routine inspections of 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.

Maintenance can be done. This includes professional services such as plumbers, electricians and tradespeople who can work on, and inside rental properties. Physical distancing and hygiene guidance should be followed when inside homes and records should be kept for contact tracing purposes. Surface cleaning on the area that is being worked on should also be undertaken.

Information on maintenance and inspections 

Alert Level 3

During Alert Level 3, in-person routine inspections of rental properties cannot take place unless it's 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.

I'm a tenant in self-isolation, who do I need to tell?

Tenants are under no obligation to tell their landlord if they are self-isolating or sick with COVID-19. If it is necessary to do urgent repairs at the property for essential services while the tenant is self-isolating, and a tradesperson needs to attend the property, we encourage tenants to advise the landlord or tradesperson that they are self-isolating.

Tenants should also make sure any other tenants or flatmates are aware of the situation and how it will work.

Follow the guidelines on the central government COVID-19 website(external link)

I’m due to move into a new rental property, but because of COVID-19, I’m not sure whether I still can. What are my options?

Alert Level 1

During Alert Level 1, tenants are able to move to a new rental property.

It is recommended you continue to keep to basic hygiene measures used during higher alert levels, and keep records for contact tracing purposes.

Alert Level 2

During Alert Level 2, tenants are able to move to a new rental property. Removal companies will be able to 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.

Find out more about moving house during COVID-19

Alert Level 3

During Alert Level 3, tenants are allowed to move to a new property. Moving companies can help with the move. They need to meet physical distancing rules and keep records for contact tracing purposes.

I’m in a boarding house or share-house living arrangement – what does self-isolation mean for me?

Boarding house tenants and landlords need to follow the self-isolation guidelines(external link). If you live in a boarding house, you should pay extra attention to the information on using shared facilities on the Ministry of Health website(external link). Boarding house landlords should consider changing the house rules to include the self-isolation guidance. Boarding house tenants must comply with the house rules and this may help reinforce the self-isolation requirement. 
 
For all tenancies where a number of people are living at one address, if self-isolation is not possible tenants may be able to access the temporary accommodation service set up by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
 
This service can help those affected to find suitable temporary accommodation for self-isolation. After registering, you will be contacted by a temporary accommodation staff member who will assess your needs and work with you to help you find suitable temporary self-isolation accommodation.

To register your details, please call 0508 754 163 or visit the Temporary Accommodation Service website(external link).

I'm having difficulty with my landlord/tenant, what should I do?

Landlords and tenants should talk to each other, work together and take care of each other wherever possible. Try to come to an arrangement that suits everyone.

If you can’t reach an agreement you can apply for mediation through the Tenancy Tribunal.

Discrimination against prospective tenants or tenants is unlawful under tenancy law when it breaches the Human Rights Act. For example, it is unlawful to:

  • not grant a tenancy to a person for any of the prohibited grounds of discrimination, for example because of their race, nationality, or disability. Disability includes physical illness, or the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing illness. This includes COVID-19.
  • discriminate when deciding to continue, extend, renew, vary, or to end a tenancy.

More information on discrimination

If you are in an accommodation arrangement that is not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act you can contact the Human Rights Commission(external link) if you think you have been discriminated against or would like to find out more information.

Do the new law changes on rent increases and ending tenancies also apply to service tenancies?

Yes, service tenancies are also subject to the rent increase freeze and termination protections.

More information on rent increases and ending tenancies

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