This information is a brief guide to your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. You can get more extensive information or help with any tenancy problems from:
The Housing Advice Centre ph 358 4875
Tenancy Services ph 0800 836 262
MUSA Advocacy Co-ordinator or Welfare Vice-President 350 4500
Bond Lodgement Centre 0800 737 666
Beginning a Tenancy
A landlord can legally ask a tenant for:
- Two week’s rent in advance
- Four week’s rent as bond
- One week’s rent as option money for holding a house, but this must be refunded or put towards the rent if you take the house.
Legally you must have a Tenancy Agreement. The Tenancy Agreement sets out how much rent you pay and your rights and responsibilities (in accordance with the law). If you’ve got one, keep it in a safe place.
Types of. Tenancies
There are two types of. tenancies, periodic tenancies and fixed term tenancies.
- Periodic tenancy is open-ended with no finishing date.
- A fixed tenancy is for a fixed period. You cannot get out of. a fixed term tenancy before the finishing date on the Tenancy Agreement. You will be liable for rent until that date, so do not sign a fixed term tenancy if you think there is any possibility that you may want to move before the finishing date.
If there is a bond, the landlord must provide a Bond Lodgement Form which you both fill out. The landlord must then deposit the bond with the Bond Processing Centre. They will send you a copy of. the Bond Lodgement Form which you should keep in a safe place.
You should also make sure you inspect the house with your landlord again when you leave. Use your original Property Inspection Report to jointly assess if any damage has occurred while you were living there so you can agree on the amount of. bond to be repaid.
You can get your bond back at the end of. the tenancy by either you or your landlord filling in a Bond Refund Form (available from Tenancy Services) and sending it to the Bond Processing Centre. If you and your landlord cannot agree on the amount of. bond to be repaid you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to get it sorted out.
If you think your landlord is neglecting his or her responsibilities or treating you unfairly and you can’t resolve the problem by talking to him or her, you can apply to Tenancy Services or Mediation, or you can take your landlord to the Tenancy Tribunal.
Advice and information are free. Mediation is $20, this fee is non refundable. Tenancy Services provide an impartial mediator who can sit down with you and your landlord and try and work something out. If you can come to an agreement, they can write it down and you can both sign it, this becomes a binding document.
If you have tried mediation or you don’t think it would help, you can take your landlord to the Tenancy Tribunal. The Tenancy Tribunal is a court that deals with tenancy disputes. They will give you and your landlord the opportunity to tell your side of. the story and then will make a decision which is legally binding on you both. Tenancy Tribunal hearings are public so you can take support people and or witnesses with you. It is also worth getting advice from places like The Housing Advice Centre and MUSA about the best way to present your case.
Ending the Tenancy
You must give the landlord three weeks (21 days) notice in writing if you wish to end the tenancy. The landlord must usually give you three months (90 days) written notice if they wish to end the tenancy, however this can be shortened to six weeks (42 days) if they are selling the house or they need it for their family or employees.
If you are breaking your Tenancy Agreement, then the landlord has the poser to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have you kicked out. They can do this if:
- You are more than 21 days behind in your rent, or
- You are damaging the property, or
- You assault the landlord, or the landlord’s family or agent, or other tenants, or neighbours, or threatening damage or assault, or
- You break the tenancy agreement and the landlord has given you at least 10 working days notice to put matters right, and you have not done so.