Renting under Covid-19 lockdown (and beyond)

On 25 March 2020 the laws for renting changed. Here are your new rights during the lockdown.

For the next three months you won’t be evicted, even if you are struggling to pay rent.

Your landlord cannot end your tenancy for the next 3 months (until 25 June) for any reason other than:

  • Serious damage to the property (including damage that makes the house uninhabitable)
  • Criminal activity and/or persistent anti-social behaviour
  • Being behind in your rent for more than 60 days.

In those cases they will need to follow the usual process of giving you warnings, notice and then take you to the Tenancy Tribunal.

If your landlord wants to evict you for non-payment of rent, you must be 60 days (8 and a half weeks) in arrears and they then have to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal. Even then, the Tribunal is unlikely to allow you to be evicted if you’ve tried your best to pay rent.

This eviction protection period can be extended if necessary by the Government.

You can end your tenancy if you want to.

You can end your tenancy by mutual consent or giving notice in the normal way. 

If you are stuck in a fixed term tenancy in a house you’re not in (for example if you’ve returned to be with whānau for the lockdown) you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end the tenancy early using the hardship condition in the Residential Tenancies Act (section 60A (5)).

You can stay even if your tenancy is expiring.

Any expiring fixed term tenancies are automatically converted to periodic tenancies so you can stay as long as you need to. 

If you have given notice to end a tenancy and you now want to stay, or your landlord has given you notice (for example if they want to move in themselves) you have the right to revoke that notice and it will have no effect. You can stay. But you must give your landlord notice of your intention to stay.

Your rent can’t increase.

Your landlord can’t put up the rent for at least the next 6 months. If your landlord has notified you of an increase but it hasn’t yet taken effect that increase is cancelled.

You can still access the Tenancy Tribunal.

The Tenancy Tribunal can make decisions based on the documents you submit. That means you don’t have to physically go to the courthouse. It can also hold hearings via phone or video conferencing.

We will keep this guide updated as we learn more about the law changes or further changes are made. More information will also be published on the website in the coming days.