Find out what you need to do if your rental property is damaged in a natural disaster.
Get in touch with your landlord or tenant to check everyone is safe and to discuss any damage.
Landlords are responsible for maintaining the property in a reasonable condition. This includes paying for any damages caused by a natural disaster.
In the case of flooding, the landlord is responsible for drying the property if it has water damage and paying the tenants for any electricity charges incurred.
If the property has serious damage
If the property is partially destroyed, or part of it is so seriously damaged that it can’t be lived in:
- the rent should reduce accordingly,
- either the landlord or tenant can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order to end the tenancy.
The Tenancy Tribunal will decide if it is unreasonable to:
- require the landlord to reinstate the property, or
- require the tenant to continue with the tenancy at a reduced rent.
If the property is destroyed
If the property is destroyed, or is so seriously damaged that it can’t be lived in at all:
- the rent should reduce accordingly, and
- either person may give notice to end the tenancy.
This applies to both periodic and fixed-term tenancies. In this situation, landlords need to give 7 days' notice and tenants need to give 2 days' notice.
If the damage can be repaired
If you’re the landlord, ask a professional when they can make the repairs and if it’s safe for your tenants to stay in the property while it's being repaired. In the case of an earthquake, check with the Earthquake Commission(external link).
If the tenant can stay
Let them know how long the repairs will take, especially if they’re taking longer than you thought. Remember to give 24 hours’ notice if you want to go inside to inspect the work.
Consider offering the tenant a rent reduction to compensate them for any inconvenience. In some cases you may agree that ending the tenancy early is best for both of you. Record any agreements you make in writing.
If the tenant has to move out
If you’re the landlord, negotiate with your tenants to leave the property while the work’s being done. If you can’t reach an agreement, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal.
Let your tenant know how long the repairs are expected to take, and when they will be able to move back in. You don’t have to provide somewhere else for them to stay, but you may be able to help them find another property to move into. Remember to record any agreements you make in writing.
Tenants that move out while repairs are being done won’t have to pay rent until the house can be lived in again.
Temporary accommodation after an emergency or natural disaster
If you have to move out of your property due to a personal emergency and have nowhere to stay, you can apply for emergency housing through the Ministry of Social Development website.(external link)
If you need immediate, emergency accommodation following a natural disaster or state of emergency, contact your local Civil Defence centre.(external link)
The Temporary Accommodation Service also provides ongoing temporary accommodation assistance in the wake of an emergency for households displaced from their home. You can register for the service following an incident. Please see the Temporary Accommodation website for more information.(external link)
There is normally a cost for all temporary accommodation options, but financial assistance may be available.
From 12 August 2020, accommodation supplied by transitional and emergency housing providers that is funded by the government or part of a special needs grants programme (like the accommodation provided by the Temporary Accommodation Service) is exempt from the Residential Tenancies Act. For more information on this law change, see the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development website.(external link)