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Most common disputes between landlords and tenants

17 December 2022

While the landlord-tenant relationship is often a productive and harmonious one, disputes can and do arise. Some of the most common disputes between landlords and tenants involve rent payments, bond refunds, maintenance and repair, pets, access to the rental property, and termination of tenancies.

1. Payment issues

One of the most common disputes between landlords and tenants involves issues related to rent payments. This can include late or missed payments, rent increases, and bond payments.

Late or missed rent payments can be a source of tension for both landlords and tenants. Landlords rely on timely rent payments to cover their own expenses and maintain the rental property. At the same time, tenants may struggle to make timely payments due to financial hardship or other circumstances. It's important for both parties to communicate openly and honestly about any problems and try to find a solution that works for both sides.

Learn more about Rent arrears: how to solve problems

Rent increases can also be a source of conflict, especially if the increase is unexpected or substantial. Landlords have the right to increase the rent, but they must follow certain procedures, such as giving advance notice to tenants. Tenants can negotiate the increase or seek alternative housing if they cannot afford the new rent.

Learn about Rent increases: how much is too much?

Bond refunds is another common source of dispute. At the end of the tenancy, landlords and tenants must complete a bond refund form, at which point the landlord must choose to return the bond payment to the tenants in full or hold some of it back. Tenants may disagree with the proposed split. To avoid misunderstandings, it's important for both parties to carefully review the tenancy agreement terms and understand what can legally be deducted from the bond at the end of the tenancy term.

Learn more about what can be deducted from the bond?

2. Repairs and property damage

Maintenance and repair issues are other common conflicts between landlords and tenants. Landlords are generally responsible for maintaining the rental property and ensuring that it is safe and habitable, but tenants also have a role to play in keeping the property in good condition.

Disputes can arise over damages - who is responsible for repairs, how quickly repairs must be made, and who pays.

If a repair is needed, the tenant should notify the landlord as soon as possible. The landlord should then make the necessary repairs promptly, taking into account the severity of the issue and any relevant laws or regulations. If the landlord fails to make necessary repairs, the tenant may issue the landlord with a 14-day notice to remedy and take matters to the Tenancy Tribunal to seek enforcement or compensation.

Tenants are also responsible for taking care of the rental property and reporting any issues that need to be fixed. If a tenant causes damage to the property, they may be responsible for paying for the repairs.

Learn more about the difference between wear and tear and property damage

3. Pets

Pets can be a source of conflict between landlords and tenants, especially if the tenant has a pet that is not allowed under the tenancy agreement or has not been disclosed to the landlord.

Landlords may have specific pet rules, such as breed or size restrictions, or may prohibit pets altogether. If a tenant has a pet that violates these rules, the landlord may have grounds for terminating the tenancy. On the other hand, tenants may feel that their landlord needs to be more reasonable and fair in enforcing pet rules.

If the pet is allowed under the tenancy agreement but is causing problems, such as causing damage to the property or disturbing other tenants, the landlord may need to take action. In this case, the landlord should try to work with the tenant to find a solution, such as requiring the pet to be kept outside or paying for any damage caused by the pet. If these attempts are unsuccessful, the landlord may need to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the matter.

Learn more about what to do when your tenants have unauthorised pets on your property

4. Access to the rental property

Another common area of conflict between landlords and tenants is access to rental property. Landlords generally have the right to enter the property for certain purposes, such as conducting routine property inspections, making repairs or showing the property to potential tenants, but they must give advance notice and respect the tenant's right to privacy and quiet enjoyment.

Tenants, on the other hand, have a right to privacy and should not be subjected to unreasonable or excessive visits from the landlord. If a tenant feels that their landlord is not respecting their privacy, they may need to communicate their concerns and can take matters to the Tenancy Tribunal if necessary.

Learn more about when landlords have the right to enter the property

Tenancy termination

Eviction is a legal process through which a landlord can terminate the tenancy and remove a tenant from the rental property. Eviction is usually the last resort, and landlords must follow certain procedures and have valid grounds to terminate the tenancy.

Some common grounds for tenancy termination include nonpayment of rent, breaches of the tenancy agreement or the RTA, and causing damage to the property.

It is important to remember that no landlord can personally evict tenants without first applying to the Tenancy Tribunal to terminate the tenancy. The only exemption to this rule is the landlord's ability to end tenancies if physically assaulted by the tenant.

Eviction can be a stressful and complicated process for both landlords and tenants. To avoid eviction, tenants must pay their rent on time, follow the tenancy agreement terms, and take good care of the property. Landlords should also be fair and reasonable when dealing with tenants and try to work together to find a solution if problems arise. Learn more about Legal reasons to evict a tenant

By understanding the potential areas of conflict and taking steps to prevent or address them, landlords and tenants can work together to maintain a positive and productive relationship. If necessary, seek legal advice or mediation to help resolve the dispute.

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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