Tenancy agreements frequently asked questions
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- What types of tenancy agreement are there and how do I set one up?
- What can I do about breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act or the tenancy agreement?
- Who pays for water?
What types of tenancy agreement are there and how do I set one up?
There are four basic types of tenancy agreement. These are fixed-term tenancies, periodic tenancies, boarding house tenancies and service tenancies.
- Fixed-term tenancies are for a specific length of time and automatically become periodic tenancies upon expiry of the fixed term. They cannot be ended by notice during the term. To prevent the fixed term tenancy becoming a periodic tenancy either party may give notice to the other that they wish to end the tenancy at the end of the fixed term. That notice needs to be given no more than 90 days before and no less than 21 days before the expiry date.
- Periodic tenancies are ongoing tenancies of no fixed length that can be ended by giving notice.
- Service tenancies are related to a contract of service between the landlord as employer and the tenant as employee. A separate contract for the tenancy does not need to be drawn up in writing for there to be a service tenancy and rent may not have to be payable.
- Boarding house tenancies relate to a grant of exclusive rights of particular sleeping quarters and rights to shared use of facilities in a boarding house for a period of 28 days or more. A separate boarding house tenancy agreement should be entered and include a statement of any services provided by the landlord. The landlord must also give the tenant a copy of the house rules.
The type of contract agreed to between the landlord and the tenant should be clearly written on the tenancy agreement. If the tenancy is for a fixed term, the date that the tenancy ends or the period that it is to last for should be written in the tenancy agreement too.
All of the terms should be agreed to before the agreement is signed. Additional clauses may be added to a tenancy agreement as long as these are compliant with the Residential Tenancies Act and agreed by both parties. This means that the additional terms do not give effect to an unlawful purpose or ask a party to do something that they would not need to do under the Residential Tenancies Act.
Any amendments or variations to tenancy agreements after the tenancy has commenced must be made and agreed to in writing by all parties to the tenancy agreement.
For all tenancies a property inspection report should be completed and attached to the tenancy agreement and should be signed by both the landlord and tenant when it is completed. The report should list all of the chattels provided by the landlord for the use of the tenant and any facilities that are excluded from the tenancy, and outline the condition of the property and its facilities. Any damage or defects should be noted on the inspection report. The tenant pays for the supply of water incurred during the tenancy so the water meter reading at the beginning of the tenancy should be noted on the tenancy agreement. Tenancy agreements should be in writing but can still be enforced if they are verbal.
Boarding house tenancy agreements must state a phone number the landlord can be contacted on at any reasonable time. If there is a manager other than the landlord, the manager’s contact details must also be included.
The boarding house tenancy agreement records the room number to which the tenancy relates, whether that boarding room is shared with other tenants and, if so, the maximum number occupying the room. It should also record any services the landlord is providing as part of the tenancy. The landlord also needs to give the tenant a copy of any house rules.
For detailed information about setting up, completing, amending or understanding tenancy agreements, phone us on 0800 83 62 62.
Read more about tenancy agreements and boarding house tenancy agreements in the sections of our site for landlords and tenants.
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What can I do about breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act or the tenancy agreement?
Where the tenant or landlord has breached the tenancy agreement or the Act, and the breach is capable of remedy, the affected party may give to the other a notice to remedy the breach and allow a reasonable timeframe for them to remedy the breach. For breaches that are not serious and urgent, this is normally a period of 14 days in addition to time allowed for serving the notice.
For breaches that are not capable of remedy or that are serious (e.g. the tenant being at least 21 days in arrears, or the tenant assaulting the landlord) or when a notice to remedy has been served and has not been complied with, an application can be made to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order to address the breach and may include an order terminating the tenancy.
The Tenancy Tribunal can award compensation or order work to be done up to a value of $50,000.
See Forms and Information for template letters giving 14 days’ notice to remedy a breach.
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Who pays for water?
The tenant is responsible for outgoings that are exclusively attributable to that tenant’s occupation of the premises (or a room in a boarding house). This includes electricity, gas, phone and metered water.
Read the Information Sheet on Water charges - Who pays?
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