Both the Unit Titles Act 2010 (UTA) and the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA) apply to a tenant living in a rented unit in a unit title development.

When you enter into a residential tenancy agreement for your unit, you must include in the agreement a statement of any body corporate operational rules which affect the tenant. These rules form part of the terms of any tenancy agreement entered after 1 October 2010.

A tenant of a unit under a tenancy agreement which was entered into before 1 October 2010 must still comply with the body corporate operational rules. Other household members (such as spouses, partners, dependents and guests) who occupy a rented unit must also follow the rules.

New law and regulations

New law and regulations for smoke alarms and insulation take effect from 1 July 2016.

The MBIE website provides more information on the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.

Changes to the body corporate rules

For residential tenancy agreements entered on or after 1 October 2010, the landlord must give the tenant notice in writing of any changes to the body corporate operational rules that affect the tenant. As soon as the tenant is notified of changes to the body corporate operational rules, the terms of the tenancy agreement are taken to be varied to include those changes.

If changes to the body corporate operational rules materially affect a fixed-term tenant, they can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal:

  • for a market rent assessment. The tenant has 3 months after being notified of the change to apply.
  • to end the fixed-term tenancy early if it would be unreasonable for the tenant to continue with the tenancy.

The kinds of rule changes that might materially affect a tenant include changes that might reduce the tenant’s access to common facilities, such as swimming pools, laundry areas or other services which were key to the tenancy.

Resolving issues

The tenant of a unit in a unit title development must comply with the body corporate rules. If a tenant has an issue with the body corporate or another occupier they should first talk to their landlord about resolving that issue.

Similarly, to resolve any issues with a tenant, the body corporate should go through the landlord/unit owner.

Responsibilities of unit owners

It is important for unit owners to know their responsibilities under both the UTA and the RTA when renting out their unit. Some of these are listed below:

Responsibilities under the Unit Titles Act

Under the Unit Titles Act, a unit owner’s responsibilities to the body corporate, other unit owners and occupiers are to:

  • repair and maintain the unit to ensure no damage or harm might be caused to the common property, infrastructure or other units
  • obey the body corporate operational rules applying to the unit title development. The default rules (which apply unless amended by the body corporate) state that:
    • an owner or occupier of a unit must not –
      • damage or deface the common property
      • leave rubbish or recycling material on the common property
      • create noise likely to interfere with the use or enjoyment of the unit title development by other owners or occupiers
      • park on the common property unless the body corporate has designated it for car parking, or the body corporate consents
      • interfere with the reasonable use or enjoyment of the common property by other owners or occupiers.
    • an owner or occupier of a unit must dispose of rubbish hygienically and tidily. 
  • permit the body corporate, or its agents, to enter the unit in an emergency or at any reasonable hour after giving reasonable notice for purposes including:
    • to view the condition of the unit to ascertain compliance with the owners or occupier’s obligations under the UTA and the body corporate operational rules
    • to maintain or repair infrastructure for services and utilities
    • to maintain or repair common property.

Responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord’s responsibilities to the tenant are to:

  • promptly give written notice of any variation to the body corporate operational rules that affect the tenant
  • make sure the property is clean and tidy before the tenant moves in
  • make sure all the locks work and the property is reasonably secure
  • maintain the property and do any necessary repairs
  • ensure the plumbing, electrical wiring and the structure of the building is safe and working
  • provide adequate water collection and storage for premises without reticulated water supply
  • give 48 hours’ notice to inspect the property – but not more than once every four weeks and only between the hours of 8am and 7pm
  • give 24 hours’ notice to do repairs and do them between the hours of 8am and 7pm.

If you are an owner who rents their unit to a tenant and are absent from New Zealand for three weeks or more, you must appoint an agent to manage the tenancy on your behalf. You must tell your body corporate who the agent is, so they can contact the agent if they have problems with your tenant. You should also tell the tenant, so that they know can contact the agent if a tenancy issue arises.

Responsibilities of tenants

It is important for tenants to know their responsibilities under the UTA, in addition to the RTA when renting a unit in a development. Some of these are listed below:

Responsibilities under the Unit Titles Act

Under the Unit Titles Act a tenant must follow the body corporate rules applying to the unit title development. The default rules (which apply unless amended by the body corporate) state that:

  • an owner or occupier of a unit must not –
    • damage or deface the common property
    • leave rubbish or recycling material on the common property
    • create noise likely to interfere with the use or enjoyment of the unit title development by other owners or occupiers
    • park on the common property unless the body corporate has designated it for car parking, or the body corporate consents
    • interfere with the reasonable use or enjoyment of the common property by other owners or occupiers.
  • an owner or occupier of a unit must dispose of rubbish hygienically and tidily.

A tenant doesn't have the right to go to body corporate meetings (unless the landlord has given you the right to attend and vote on their behalf as a proxy voter) or sit on the body corporate committee. 

Responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act

Under the Residential Tenancies Act a tenant must:

  • keep the unit reasonably clean and tidy
  • not disturb the peace, comfort or privacy of other neighbours, or allow anyone else at the unit to do so
  • not damage, or let anyone the tenant has allowed on the premises damage, the property, whether it be on purpose or carelessly
  • not interfere with or stop from working any means of escape from fire, such as smoke alarms
  • not threaten or assault, or permit any other person to threaten or assault another building occupant or neighbour.