Do you have questions about rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act? Find the answers here.
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Abandonment of goods
Abandonment of goods is where a tenant leaves their things behind after the tenancy has finished and possession of the property has passed back to the landlord. The landlord may immediately dispose of any perishable goods, such as food. If a tenant leaves any other type of goods that are non-perishable, the landlord has a choice of procedures to follow before getting rid of those goods.
The landlord must make a reasonable attempt to contact the tenant to arrange collection of the abandoned goods.
The landlord must store securely any personal documents left by the tenant. Any personal papers unclaimed after 35 days may remain in storage or else must be handed to Police;
If the other goods remain uncollected, the landlord must still store the tenant’s personal documents securely and then chose to either:
1. Apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order for the disposal of the goods
The Tribunal may direct that the landlord return the goods to the tenant; or if that is not practicable, order that the goods be sold or disposed of and state any amount owing (if any) to the landlord out of the proceeds of sale
2. Dispose of abandoned goods following assessment of market value (alternative to seeking a disposal order from the Tribunal)
For all other goods, other than personal documents, that remain uncollected, the landlord must make all reasonable efforts to assess the market value of the goods; and:
- If the value of the goods is less than the cost of storing, transporting and selling them, the landlord can immediately dispose of them as they see fit.
- If the value of the goods is more than the cost of storing, transporting and selling them, the landlord must secure the goods in safe storage for at least 35 days, after which they must either continue to store them to await any claims to the goods by the tenant or sell the goods at a reasonable market price.
- The tenant may claim stored goods at any time prior to disposal, on payment of reasonable storage and disposal costs.
- If the landlord has sold the goods, the landlord may apply to the Tribunal for an order specifying the amount (if any) owing to the landlord out to the proceeds of sale.
If the landlord has sold goods pursuant to a disposal order, they must pay the proceeds of sale after deducting any amount ordered by the Tribunal or to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
If the landlord has sold goods without a disposal order, they may deduct the cost of storage, transport and sale reasonably incurred and then pay the remaining proceeds to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
The landlord may seek any money still owing from the bond or the tenant.
The tenant may apply for the payment of the proceeds of sale in the Residential Tenancies Trust Account, within 1 year after the date of sale.
Read the information sheet Abandoned goods - all tenancies »
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Abandonment of premises
This is where a tenant leaves a rental property without notice before the tenancy is finished and the rent is in arrears. The landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to terminate the tenancy and for an order for compensation for unpaid rent. If there is a bond, this can be used to offset rent and can be included in an application for an order of the Tribunal.
It is an unlawful act if a tenant, without reasonable excuse, abandons the premises when the rent is in arrears. Exemplary damages of up to $1000 may be awarded.
In the case of a boarding house tenancy, if a boarding house tenant is in arrears with the rent, and if the landlord has reason to believe that the tenant has abandoned the premises, the landlord –
(a) may put a notice on the door of the tenant’s boarding room advising the tenant that the landlord will enter the room 24 hours later to confirm whether or not the tenant has abandoned the tenancy; and
(b) must make all reasonable efforts to contact the contact person (if any) identified in the tenant’s tenancy agreement.
If, after inspecting the room and making contact (if possible) with the tenant’s contact person, the landlord considers, on reasonable grounds, that the tenant has abandoned the room, the landlord may terminate the tenancy by putting a notice of termination, which must be a time no sooner than 48 hours, on the door of the tenant’s room.
Read the information sheet Abandoned premises »
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Address for service
An address for service is a physical street address where notices and other documents relating to the tenancy will be accepted by you or on your behalf, even after the tenancy has ended. In addition to a physical address, a PO Box, fax number, or email address can be provided to be used as an Address for Service .
The landlord and tenant must write their address for service on the tenancy agreement and on the Bond lodgement form.
It is very important to tell the other party if this address changes. If the tenant has paid a bond, they must give the new address to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as well. Landlords must also tell us if their address for service changes.
Important note for landlords: address for service requirements when a tenancy has ended.
If the tenancy has ended and the landlord is making a Tenancy Tribunal application, it is important to provide an address for service for the tenant so that they can be served with notices of mediations and Tenancy Tribunal hearings. If they cannot be served with these notices, then the Tribunal may not be able to hear the matter.
If you are applying within 2 months after the tenancy has ended, you can use the tenants address for service written on the tenancy agreement.
If you are applying more than 2 months after the tenancy has ended, you cannot use the address for service written on the tenancy agreement.
So that notices of mediations and Tenancy Tribunal hearings can be served on the tenant, you will need to provide:
- a new contact address for the tenant, which was given to you in writing by the tenant within 2 months before you made the Tribunal application; or
- a physical address where the tenant now lives, or where notice can be served on the tenant personally; or
- the name and address of a solicitor or an agent that the tenant has authorised to receive service on their behalf.
Read the information sheet What to do when you don’t have the other party’s address for service »
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Appointment of agent if landlord is out of New Zealand
If a landlord is going to be absent from New Zealand for more than 21 consecutive days, they must appoint a New Zealand based agent, notify their tenants of the agents’ details and the Bond Centre, if a bond is held.
It is an unlawful act if a landlord does not appoint an agent if they are out of New Zealand for longer than 21 consecutive days.
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An assignment of a tenancy occurs where a tenant wishes to end their interest in a tenancy and finds a replacement tenant. The landlord may, but is not obliged to, find a replacement tenant at the tenant’s request. Once a replacement tenant’s tenancy begins, the original tenant will no longer be responsible for the tenancy. They will still be responsible for any amount owing to the landlord incurred before that point. Landlords may seek to recover reasonable costs incurred in finding a replacement tenant if the tenant wants to assign a tenancy.
Landlords may refuse to assign tenancies where this is expressly stated on the tenancy agreement. Where it is not, landlords must not unreasonably withhold their consent to assign a tenancy. If a landlord does unreasonably refuse to assign a tenancy, the tenant may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to approve an assignment or to seek termination of the tenancy.
It is an unlawful act if a tenant assigns, sublets, or otherwise parts with possession of the premises if the tenancy agreement does not allow it, or without the landlord’s prior written consent where it is allowed.
In the case of boarding house tenancies, a boarding house tenancy is not assignable by a tenant.
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