The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 sets out a framework that all landlords and tenants must adhere to when entering into any tenancy agreement. These rules have been developed to provide clear guidelines and boundaries for all those involved in the process.

Obligations and Responsibilities of a Landlord

A landlord is obliged to:

  • Provide the premises in a reasonably clean and tidy state.

  • Keep the premises in a reasonable state of repair.

  • Comply with all building and health and safety requirements relating to the property.

  • Not interfere with the supply of gas, power, water, telephone, or other services to the premises, unless it is necessary for maintenance or repair, or to prevent danger.

  • Ensure that all locks are working and the property is reasonably secure.

  • Make sure that smoke alarms are in good working order, meet all requirements and have batteries at the beginning of each new tenancy (where applicable)

During the tenancy, a landlord must:

  • Not ask for more than 4 weeks’ rent as a bond or for more than 2 weeks’ rent to be paid in advance.

  • Make sure none of the other tenants in neighbouring properties owned by the same landlord disturb one other.

  • Compensate the tenant for serious and urgent repairs that the tenant has had done, if the damage was not the tenant’s fault and the tenant made a reasonable attempt to contact the landlord about the repairs.

  • Give the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice and visit between 8am and 7pm if any repairs or maintenance are needed.

  • Ask for the tenant’s permission and visit at a reasonable hour if wanting to show a prospective buyer, tenant or registered valuer through the premises.

  • Not use force, or threat of force, to enter or attempt to enter the premises while the tenant or anyone else is on the premises – it is an offence to do so.

  • Give at least 48 hours’ notice of any routine inspection of the property

  • Not unreasonably refuse to allow a tenant to put up fixtures such as shelves.

Obligations and Responsibilities of a Tenant

A tenant is obliged to:

  • Pay the rent on time.

  • Make sure the property is occupied principally for living purposes.

  • Pay the power, gas, telephone charges.

  • Keep the property reasonably clean and tidy.

  • Notify the landlord as soon as possible after the discovery of any damage to the premises or of the need for any repairs.

  • Fix any damage they or their visitors cause on purpose or by being careless, or pay for someone to fix it.

  • Pay water usage charges only if the water supplier charges separately for the water, and there is a meter to measure exactly how much water was used.

  • Replace expired batteries in smoke alarms (where applicable) and let the landlord know if there are any problems with the smoke alarms as soon as possible. (Tenants must not damage, remove or disconnect the alarm)


During tenancy, a tenancy must:​

  • Prevent any intentional or careless damage to the premises.

  • Not use the premises, or permit the premises to be used, for any illegal purpose

  • Not disturb the neighbours.

  • Ensure there are no more people living in the premises than what is specified in the tenancy agreement.

  • Not change the locks, attach fixtures or make any renovations, alterations or additions to the premises unless outlined in the agreement or allowed with written permission from the landlord.

  • Remove all personal items from the house or flat upon vacating.

  • Leave the premises reasonably clean and tidy at the end of the tenancy and remove all rubbish.

  • Return all keys initially provided back to the landlord at the end of the tenancy.

  • Leave any personal items or pieces of furniture provided by the landlord.


As outlined in the terms of any signed management authority your property manager is legally acting on your behalf and must, therefore, also adhere to these rules and obligations, or risk being subject to possible exemplary damages (fines) under the Unlawful Acts section of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (section 109)

Some examples of exemplary damages (fines) include:

Section 12 
Unlawful discrimination
Amount $4,000


Section 16A (6)
Landlord failing to appoint agent when outside New Zealand for longer than 21 consecutive days
Amount $1,000


Section 17
Requiring key money
Amount $1,000


Section 18
Landlord requiring bond greater than amount permitted

Amount $1,000

Section 18 A
Requiring unauthorised form of security
Amount $1,000


Section 19 (2)
Breach of duties of landlord on receipt of bond
Amount $1,000


Section 23
Landlord requiring rent more than 2 weeks in advance or before rent already paid expires
Amount $1,000


Section 27 (2)
Landlord requiring rent in excess of market rent order
Amount $200


Section 29
Failure by landlord to give receipts for rent
Amount $200


Section 33
Landlord seizing or disposing of tenants goods
Amount $2,000


Section 38 (3)
Interference with privacy of tenant
Amount $2,000


Section 40 (3A) (d)
Harassment of tenant or neighbour

Amount $2,000

Section 45 (1A)
Landlord’s failure to meet obligations in respect of cleanliness, maintenance,

or building, or health and safety requirements
Amount $3,000


Section 45 (2A)
Landlord interfering with supply of services to premises
Amount $1,000


Section 46 (3)
Altering locks without consent of other party
Amount $1,000


Section 48 (4) (a)
Unlawful entry by the Landlord
Amount $1,000

Do you want to view the full document of The Residential Tenancies Act of 1986?