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6 Answers to the most frequently asked questions about tenancy agreements

18 July 2019

Photo: Clear Light Bulb Placed on Chalkboard by Pixabay

Creating a tenancy agreement doesn't have to be hard. But there are several questions we hear time and time again. Read on for information on the important things to remember.

1. Do I need a written tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract. It must be in writing, and both a landlord and a tenant should have a copy of it.

If whatever reason there is no signed written agreement, the Residential Tenancies Act still applies. The absence of the agreement is not an excuse to avoid your responsibilities under the Act.

To avoid potential misunderstandings, it is essential to have a written agreement in place. Nothing is as good as a written contract. Having a paper trail will help you avoid potential problems down the track.

2. What is better periodic or fixed-term?

This is an impossible question to answer and depends on your circumstances and preferences.

A fixed-term tenancy provides stability and a more concrete future. The tenancy runs for a specific period set out in the agreement and neither a landlord nor a tenant can end it earlier (unless by mutual consent).

A periodic tenancy provides flexibility. There are no set end dates and it continues until someone gives the notice to end it. With correct notice, the rent can be increased, and the terms can be changed.

Learn more about the difference between periodic and fixed-term tenancies

3. I would like to add an additional term to the agreement. How do I know if it's enforceable?

Landlords can’t add any conditions they want to the tenancy agreement. Extra conditions are not enforceable if they contradict the Residential Tenancies Act. Breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act are treated seriously by the Tenancy Tribunal.

In general, a landlord can add clauses that relate to things that can damage the property or cause extra wear and tear and not conflict with the tenancy or any other laws, or contradict other terms in the agreement.

Learn more about additing additional terms to a tenancy agreement

4. What are body corporate rules, and how do they affect my tenants?

Flats and apartments fall under the Unit Titles Act 2010. Body corporate rules are a set of operational rules, which apply to all unit title properties. They cover things like common property laws, rubbish and recycling rules, parking standards, pets policies, etc. Some body corporate rules address overcrowding. It is important to attach a copy of Body corporate rules to the tenancy agreement, to make sure tenants are familiar with them.

If the rental property is part of a body corporate, landlords will need to include insurance information that is relevant to the tenant’s liability for damage of both the rental property itself and the shared facilities.

To learn more about Unit Titles and Body Corporate, check out new Tenancy Services website

5. What is the difference between an insulation certificate and an insulation statement?

To be clear, an insulation certificate is not the same as an insulation statement.

An insulation statement is a compulsory statement that needs to be filled out by landlords as part of their tenancy agreement. This is a mandatory requirement under both Minimum Insulation Standards and Healthy Homes Standards.

Find Insulation Statement template here

An insulation certificate is a document supplied by an insulation installer to confirm the type and the level of insulation installed at your rental property. You do not have to obtain an insulation certificate to meet the Standards, nor are you required to share it with your tenants.

From 1 December 2020, landlords must include a signed healthy homes standards compliance statement in most new or renewed tenancy agreements. If the insulation information has already been provided in the insulation statement, it is not necessary to include it again in the compliance statement.

6. The tenants asked to change the agreement after everyone signed it. Do I need to agree to these changes?

The short answer is "No, you don't have to. BUT".

If you're after a good long-term relationship with your tenants, it is important to put yourself in tenant's shoes. This doesn't mean that you have to agree with all their requests. Landlords have to manage their properties with their heads, not their hearts. It is a business, after all. However, to build trust and loyalty, it helps to be understanding and respond to your tenants' concerns quickly.

Any change/variation to the original agreement should be made in writing, dated and signed by both tenants and landlords. The change will then form a part of the agreement.

We hope you found this article useful. Learn more about the most commonly asked questions about rent and bond

The information contained in this article is exclusively for promotional purposes. It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as the basis for any legal action or contractual dealings. The information is not and does not attempt to be, a comprehensive account of the relevant law in New Zealand. If you require legal advice, you should seek independent legal counsel. does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.

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What the community has to say
  • AO

    Ok i understand and i aware of thst

  • MG

    Why is it that the unfortunate people don't get chosen for one of your home's as me and my family have been declined of all your home, why because I have a big dog or we don't have a job some people have health issues anyway what do you care. Some families would like to keep there pets till there time is up. But know you landlord's just don't care. That's right its your house your rules. I respect that, it's abit unfair if you asks me.

  • RL

    Your article reads:

    6. The tenants asked to change the agreement after everyone signed it. Do I need to agree to these changes?
    This does mean that you have to agree with all their requests…..

    I think this should read: This does NOT mean you have to agree…..

  • RL

    Answering Melva from Feb, from the Landlord perspective:
    Melva I’m sorry to hear that you are struggling to find a home. I’m very fortunate in that my rental property has had long term tenants, so I don’t have to interview tenants often.
    We do allow dogs, because our property is fully fenced, so that’s not an issue for us.
    What is an issue, is that there are SO MANY people just like yourself that desperately need a good home, and we can’t take you all!
    When hundreds of people apply to look at a single property, how can a Landlord choose amongst them, when they all have stories of need?
    It’s actually heartbreaking to have to choose one family when so many need homes.
    I know it’s disappointing when you miss out, but please know that for most landlords, it’s not about you being rejected for the property, it’s about one family amongst many that will be selected for a number of reasons.
    The last time I advertised a home to rent, I had five families that I would have signed up in a heartbeat, they were all lovely and all needing a good home. But I can only rent to one family.
    I’m sorry - keep trying!!

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