A tenant has to pay the rent on time. The tenancy agreement will say how the rent is to be paid and when. If the rent is not paid on time it is called overdue rent (or rent arrears).

Tenants and landlords need to know what to do when rent is overdue, and where they can go for help.

Overdue rent is a breach of the tenancy agreement

Failure to pay rent on time is a breach of the tenancy agreement and the Residential Tenancies Act 1986.

The Act says what you need to do, and will depend on how much rent you are owed.

Breaches of the Act tells you what you can do when you are owed rent.

Responsibility for paying the rent

If you’re the tenant you’re legally responsible for the property. This means you’re responsible for paying all of the rent, not just your own share.

If you let someone else share the house, they’re likely to be a flatmate. Flatmates live with you and pay rent to you. They’re not part of the tenancy agreement, and they’re responsible to you, not to the landlord.

Flatmates are not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act. Their rights depend on the agreement they have with you.

Other options when the rent is overdue are:

If you're a landlord

Contact the tenant immediately to check if they’re aware of the missed payment. Talk to them about what’s happened, and ask them how they plan to bring rent up to date.

If they’re having difficulty, consider a repayment plan (for example, allowing them to add an amount to their regular rent until the debt is paid). Record any agreement that you make together in writing.

If it looks like overdue rent might be an ongoing problem, check to see if the tenant can realistically afford to stay on at the property.

Consider using FastTrack Resolution if you reach an agreement with the tenant and want to formalise this with a legally binding mediator’s order.

FastTrack Resolution has more information on how to reach agreement.

If you’re a tenant

If you think you’ve already paid the rent, check if a payment hasn’t been processed (for example, by your bank or employer).

If you know you’ve missed a payment, or you’re having difficulty paying, contact the landlord immediately to let them know.

Pay whatever you can straight away. A part payment is better than nothing.

Don’t avoid or ignore your landlord’s calls or messages. Be honest with the landlord, and hopefully they’ll work with you on a solution. For example, they may let you add an amount to your regular rent until the debt is paid.

If you think you’ll have trouble paying in future, think about options for extra income. For example, check whether your tenancy agreement allows you to have paying boarders. Get other help if you need it (such as from budgeting services, WINZ, or other agencies).

Decide if you can afford to stay in the tenancy (or if you need to explore cheaper options).

You can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for help

Disputes process has information on when a landlord and tenant can not resolve the issue themselves.

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