COVID-19: What it means for landlords and tenants

Alert Level 2 restrictions for landlords and tenants came in to effect at 11.59pm on Wednesday 13 May 2020.

Moving from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2

We have set out a high-level summary in the table below about what it means for landlords and tenants to move from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2.

For more detailed information, please see our Level 2 - COVID-19 Tenants + Landlords Questions and Answers

Decisions are still being made about the full details of what will change when New Zealand moves from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2.  We will continue to update this page with additional information as it becomes available.

Alert Level 3

Alert Level 2

Tenants are allowed to move to a new house and removal companies will be able to help tenants.

Movers will have to adhere to physical distancing rules and should keep records for contact tracing purposes.

Tenants are able to move to a new rental property. Removal companies can assist with moving, with some conditions: movers will have to comply with physical distancing, personal hygiene and surface cleaning rules and should keep records for contact tracing purposes.

 

 

In-person inspections of occupied rental properties can only happen in emergency situations.

Landlords can inspect vacant rental properties.

Virtual inspections are an option for regular three-monthly inspections. These can only occur if the tenants agree and the landlord does not interfere with the tenant’s rights of reasonable peace, comfort or privacy.

In-person inspections of occupied or vacant rental properties can take place. Landlords and tenants should adhere to physical distancing, personal hygiene and surface cleaning rules and should keep records for contact tracing purposes.

 

Tenants cannot unreasonably refuse an inspection, however for those who are considered at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, that could be reasonable grounds for refusal. The list of people at risk of severe illness from COVID-19  can be found on the Ministry of Health website.

Maintenance can only occur in emergencies or with tenant approval. This might include plumbers, electricians and tradespeople can work on, and inside rental properties.

We recommend landlords arrange for professional services to clean or undertake maintenance of their vacant rental property.

Maintenance can be undertaken while practicing appropriate health and safety workplace practices around physical distancing, personal hygiene and surface cleaning.  Contact tracing procedures also need to be followed. 

 

Open homes where multiple people view a property cannot take place.

In-person viewings of rental properties are allowed. If the property is tenanted, tenants need to agree, and a viewing can only occur when the tenants are not present in the home. In person viewings should be limited to two per day to minimise the impact on the tenants.

The expectation is that viewings should be carried out remotely in most cases. 

Open homes are permitted under Alert Level 2 with the tenant’s consent as long as the guidance on physical distancing, personal hygiene and surface cleaning for Alert Level 2 are observed. Records should be kept for contact tracing purposes.

The Real Estate Authority has developed guidance for open homes. This guidance is available on their website. Conducting real estate business during COVID-19 - Alert Level 2.

 

Where to find additional information

You can find more detailed information about what moving from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2 means for you in our Level 2 - COVID-19 Tenants + Landlords Questions and Answers

For information about how the Tenancy Tribunal will operate during COVID-19, please visit the Tenancy Services website

Tenancy Services also provides general information for landlords and tenants during COVID-19

Rent increase freeze and tenancy terminations

On Monday 23 March 2020 the Government announced a freeze to residential rent increases and greater protections for tenants against having their tenancies terminated.  This has been applied as law via a new Schedule 5 being inserted into the Residential Tenancies Act through the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Act.

In the wake of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to ensure that tenancies are sustained and tenants do not have to face the prospect of homelessness during a global pandemic.

It’s also critical from a public health perspective that people self-isolate in their own homes by ensuring that they can remain in their rental properties for the duration of this crisis.

Please note:

  • There is now a freeze on rent increases.
  • A rent increase notice from a landlord before 26 March 2020 will not have the effect of increasing a tenant’s rent during the period until 26 September.  However, a rent increase notice is given now can take affect after that date unless the temporary legislation is extended.
  • Tenancies will not be terminated during the three-month period from 26 March 2020 (which may be extended, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances, regardless of when the notice was provided.
  • Tenants are still able to terminate their tenancy as normal, if they wish.
  • Tenants have the ability to revoke termination notices that they gave before 26 March 2020, in case they need to stay in the tenancy during the current period.

Period of the measures

  • The measures took effect on Thursday, 26 March.
  • The rent increase freeze applies for an initial period of six months.
  • The protections against terminations apply for an initial period of three months.
  • At the end of both initial periods, the Government will evaluate whether they need to be extended.

 

Published: May 18, 2020

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