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Residential Tenancies Act: What you need to know

Did you know that 80% of the fatal fires attended by the fire service are attributed to smoke alarms not being installed or not working? The changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 hope to change that by ensuring that rental homes are kept warmer, drier and safer to live in. The changes came into effect on July 1st so hopefully you’ll be well underway with getting compliant. If not, you better hop to it!  

We’ve provided the key changes below courtesy of Tenancy Services NZ who are also running a Landlord Seminar Series this September - November.   

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Smoke Alarms 

  • From 1 July landlords will need to have working smoke alarms installed in all their residential rental homes. Any replacement alarms installed after that date will need to have long life batteries and a photoelectric sensor. Hardwired smoke alarms are also permitted.
  • Tenants will be responsible for replacing worn-out batteries in the smoke alarms and informing their landlord of any defects.


  • All residential rental homes in New Zealand will be required to have insulation to keep a home warm in winter and cool in summer. Social housing (where tenants pay an income related rent) must be insulated by 1 July 2016 and all other rental homes by July 2019.
  • Landlords are required to provide a statement on the tenancy agreement for any new tenancy commencing 1 July 2016 about the location, type and condition of insulation in the rental home. 
  • Installing conductive foil insulation in residential and rental homes is now banned.

Tenancy abandonment process

  • The new law introduces an expedited process for a landlord to regain possession of their rental property when the property has been abandoned.
  • The expedited process for regaining possession will enable a Tenancy Adjudicator to decide the case based on evidence landlords have provided in their expedited abandonment application. Landlords will not need to be present when the Adjudicator considers the evidence under this new process.
  • The Tenancy Tribunal Application Online form has been updated to include the new expedited abandonment process. 

Enhanced enforcement function

  • The Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will have greater enforcement powers, including investigating and taking proceedings to the Tribunal on behalf of the tenant, even without the tenant’s consent.

Retaliatory notice

  • It is now an unlawful act for a landlord to end a tenancy in retaliation for a tenant exercising a right under the tenancy agreement, the relevant law, or by making a complaint relating to the tenancy. This is called a ‘retaliatory notice’ under the Residential Tenancies Act. Tenants who take direct action against landlords will now be able to challenge an alleged retaliatory notice up to 28 working days after it has been issued.

A good Property Manager will take care of all this for you of course. If you'd like to know how Wealth Works can assist simply get in touch today 09 306 5820.

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