Find out how the Tenancy Tribunal will operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s changed for residential tenancies?
The Government has introduced new emergency tenancy legislation (known as the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Act) in response to COVID-19.
Which applications are being heard by the Tenancy Tribunal?
From 11 May 2020, the Tenancy Tribunal will be operating a full schedule of Tenancy Tribunal hearing days. From 25 May 2020, the Tribunal will recommence hearings in person. The Tribunal will hear applications from both tenants and landlords, along with unit title applications. Priority will be given to hearing matters that are identified as urgent in accordance with the emergency legislation, including:
- anti-social behaviour
- substantial property damage
- assault or threat of assault
- the property is uninhabitable
- death of a sole tenant
- abandonment of a tenancy
- rent arrears of more than 60 days
- reduction of fixed-term tenancy (COVID-19 related only)
- undefended vacated tenant bond
- all other applications.
How will Tribunal hearings be carried out?
The Tenancy Tribunal will have more flexibility in how it will function. For example, the Tribunal now has the power to conduct hearings on the papers presented, without either party attending in person. The Tribunal is currently holding all hearings by telephone or videoconference. From 25 May 2020, face-to-face hearings will recommence and additional hearings will also be conducted by teleconference. How this works in practice will be managed by the Tenancy Tribunal itself.
Why has my Tenancy Tribunal hearing been adjourned?
Applications that were adjourned are being rescheduled. Face-to-face or teleconference hearings will be set down in due course.
Will mediation still be available?
Tenancy Services is providing mediation services via telephone to assist parties to resolve disputes. If you are the applicant and your hearing was adjourned, you can contact us to take up this option to have your dispute mediated at any time while your application is on hold.
How long do I have to wait for my hearing to be rescheduled?
There are a number of applications to be rescheduled, so the wait-times may vary across different regions of New Zealand. It is therefore possible that it may take a number of months from when your adjourned hearing is rescheduled to when your application is heard. Landlords and tenants are encouraged to talk to each other, work together to try to come to an arrangement that suits everyone, and take care of each other wherever possible.
Legislation regarding termination for rent arrears
Legislation regarding termination for rent arrears has been applied as law through the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Amendment Act.
In its emergency response to COVID-19, the Government introduced an urgent amendment to the RTA that took effect from 26 March 2020, which raised the threshold for ordering a termination due to rent arrears from 21 to 60 days. That means that from 26 March 2020, the Tribunal can only terminate a tenancy due to rent arrears, if the rent arrears were at least 60 days on the date the application to the Tribunal was filed.
If you have filed an application for termination for rent arrears (being in excess of 21 days) and those rent arrears are now in excess of 60 days you will need to file a variation to amend the application so that it can be considered under the emergency legislation
Please include an updated rental summary with your Variation Form.