Decisions made during the Tenancy Tribunal process are known as orders. There are three main types of order. Each order sets out who has to do what to resolve a dispute.
The three main types of order
After you’ve been to mediation or a hearing, there are three main types of orders:
A mediator’s order (not sealed)
A mediator’s order records how the landlord and tenant agreed to solve the problem. This type of order is often issued where the problem has already been solved (for example, overdue rent has been paid) and the landlord and tenant agree not to let the problem happen again.
Sometimes a mediator’s order is just a formal document of the discussions that took place during mediation.
A sealed mediator's order
Some mediator’s orders say what the landlord or tenant (or both) promise to do, and what will happen if they don’t do it. A mediator’s order like this may be sent to the Tenancy Tribunal to be sealed.
There’s a difference between a ‘mediator’s order’ and a ‘sealed mediator’s order’. All mediator’s orders are binding, but the order has to be sealed (stamped) by the Tenancy Tribunal if the applicant wants to enforce it via the Ministry of Justice.
The most common situations for sealing a mediator’s order are where:
- the tenant has agreed to pay off the overdue rent in addition to the weekly rent
- the landlord has agreed to undertake work on the property.
If the tenant breaches the order, the most common consequences are that the tenancy is ended and the overdue money becomes payable immediately. If the landlord breaches the order, the most common consequences are that the tenant pays less rent until the property is fixed, or the tenant can end the tenancy.
All of these orders record what happens at mediation or at the hearing and describe the resulting decision.
Orders set out who has to do what to resolve a dispute
The most common orders are those ordering tenancies to end, money to be paid or work to be done. For example, the Tribunal can order a tenant to pay overdue rent, or a landlord to repair a property.
The Tribunal can award compensation or order work to be done up to a value of $50,000. Claims for more than this can be filed through the District Court.
Orders to regain possession of a property
The Tribunal can order a tenancy to end and a tenant to leave the property. This can happen, for example, if the tenant is:
- found to have abandoned the tenancy
- more than 21 days behind in the rent
- substantially damaging the property or threatening to do so
- assaulting or threatening to assault the landlord or the landlord’s family or agent, other tenants or neighbours
- breaking the tenancy agreement by not putting right something that the landlord has given them at least 14 days’ notice about.
Orders to recover money
The Tribunal can order a landlord or tenant to pay money to the other person. Examples include:
- payment of overdue rent
- refund of overpaid rent
- payment for damage, cleaning, gardening or rubbish removal
- reimbursement of costs, such as urgent repairs
- payment of exemplary damages (this is something like a fine) for legal breaches such as not paying the bond to Tenancy Services, seizing a tenant’s goods or denying legal access
- payment of compensation for loss of goods or loss of use through poor repair.
Orders to get work done
The Tenancy Tribunal can order a landlord or tenant to do maintenance or repair damage.
A work order can also include provisions that allow the person who secured the order to undertake the work themselves, charge the cost to the other party and specify timeframes in which the work must be done.
A landlord or tenant cannot pay out the other party instead of complying with a Tenancy Tribunal work order if it relates to health and safety – this includes smoke alarms and insulation requirements.
If a landlord has a work order requiring a tenant to undertake work by certain date, and the tenant fails to do so, the landlord can get the work done to the value of the order and treat those costs as rent arrears. This option is at the discretion of the Tenancy Tribunal, and the landlord must ask the Tribunal to include it in the order.
If a tenant has a work order requiring a landlord to undertake work, and the landlord fails to do so, the tenant has options including:
- paying MBIE the rent until there is enough to do the work
- doing the work and offsetting the cost against rent payable.
This option is at the discretion of the Tenancy Tribunal, and the tenant must ask the Tribunal to include it in the order.
Orders for the payment of bond
The Tribunal can order how much bond should be paid to each person involved in a dispute about a bond refund.
Orders to deduct money from wages
The Tribunal can order payments to be deducted directly from the wages or benefit of a person who owes money.
Enforcing an attachment order has detail on this type of order.
Orders for debt recovery costs
The Tribunal can order a landlord to claim expenses they had to pay to recover a debt that the Tribunal ordered the tenant to pay. A landlord can only claim these expenses if the tenancy agreement says they can.
Order for compensation
The Tribunal can award an amount of money to be paid if a person has suffered a loss because of something the other person did (or didn’t do). For example, a landlord disposed of a tenant’s goods without going through the proper process, causing the tenant to lose something valuable.
The Tribunal can also order mediation
Depending on the circumstances of the dispute, the Tenancy Tribunal may order both people to go back to mediation.
If someone doesn’t obey a Tribunal order
If a tenant or landlord doesn’t do what they’ve been ordered to do by the Tenancy Tribunal, the order may be able to be enforced through the Collections Unit of the Ministry of Justice.
Enforcing an order from the Tribunal explains how orders are enforced.