When a tenant or landlord breaches the Residential Tenancies Act, it’s important to understand what you can do to put it right.

You can’t write clauses into tenancy agreements that conflict with the Act. The Tenancy Tribunal may consider such clauses to be unenforceable – meaning they have no effect and in some cases these clauses may amount to an unlawful act.

Generally clauses likely to be unenforceable are clauses that:

  • ask a tenant to do more than the Act requires them to do
  • try to remove or reduce the tenant’s rights or give the landlord more rights
  • evade the requirements of the Act.

Below are some examples of clauses that would not be enforceable.



Carpets must be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy.

A tenant only has to leave the premises in a reasonably clean and tidy condition. Tenants do not have to have the carpets professionally cleaned.

Tenants must replace stove elements, fuses and tap washers as they wear out.

A landlord is responsible for maintaining the premises to a reasonable state of repair.

Tenants must give more than 28 days' written notice to end a periodic (ongoing) agreement.

Under the Act, the tenant only needs to give at least 28 days' written notice to end this type of agreement.

A tenant must pay four weeks' bond plus two weeks' extra bond for the landlord allowing a dog.

The law only allows a maximum of four weeks' rent as a bond.

The landlord can raise the rent with one weeks’ notice.

The Act states the process for raising the rent, which must be complied with.

The tenant cannot have visitors without the landlord's consent.

The tenant is entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property while they are renting it. This clause would breach that entitlement.

The tenant can only have a party with the landlord's consent.

This clause would also breach the tenant's right to quiet enjoyment of the property.

The tenant will pay for fixed water charges.

The Act states that landlords are responsible for paying fixed water charges.

The tenant will install smoke alarms that meet the legal requirements.

Landlords are responsible for installing smoke alarms and making sure they’re in working order.

If you think there are clauses in your tenancy agreement that are unenforceable, you should discuss these with your landlord. You can also contact Tenancy Services for advice.

If the clause or request cannot be agreed on, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the issue resolved.