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Landlords: What to put in tenancy agreements

A recent law change means tenancy agreements must be in writing. Here’s what you can and can’t include — plus details of the new rules for insulation and fire alarms in rental properties.

Put it in writing

A written tenancy agreement is a great foundation for a stable tenancy — and it’s now a legal requirement. It sets out the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant, reduces the risk of future misunderstandings, and keeps you on the right side of the law.

All new tenancies must have a written agreement —signed by both landlord and tenants — setting out important details, including:

  • full names and contact addresses
  • address of the rental property
  • date tenancy begins — and ends, if it’s for a fixed term
  • bond to be paid, if any
  • rent amount and frequency of payments
  • any chattels, eg furniture or appliances, provided by the landlord
  • information about insulation in the ceilings, floors, or walls.

Even if you don’t put your agreement in writing, the Residential Tenancies Act applies. This means you and your tenants must still do what’s required by law.

If you add any clauses or conditions, make sure these are in line with tenancy law. It’s fine to say “no pets” or to write down the maximum number of people who can live at the property. But you can’t insist the tenant has the carpets commercially cleaned when they move out.

The easiest way to get your agreement right is to use the template on the Tenancy Services website.

Tenancy agreement template (external link) — Tenancy Services

Give a copy of the signed agreement to your tenant before they move in.

Give a copy of the signed agreement to your tenant before they move in.

Other new rules

Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) also mean landlords must fit the following in their residential rental properties:

  • working smoke alarms
  • insulation in the ceilings and under floors by July 2019 — but there are exceptions.

Exceptions for installing insulation in rental properties (external link) — Tenancy Services

If your property doesn’t have insulation — or if the current insulation doesn’t meet the new standards — talk to your tenant about the right time to get it installed or upgraded.

To make sure your property is up to scratch before a new tenant moves in, use the checklist on the Tenancy Services website.

Landlord compliance checklist (external link) — Tenancy Services

Check out which laws apply to landlords, save them and email yourself a to-do list from our tool Compliance Matters.

Check out which laws apply to landlords, save them and email yourself a to-do list from our tool Compliance Matters.

If you rent out rooms, rather than a whole house or flat, you’re running a boarding house if the property is intended to house at least six tenants.

The rights and responsibilities of boarding house landlords and tenants are similar to those of standard tenancies. But there are additional rules, including:

  • you must get resource consent from your local council
  • you can set house rules.

Make sure you meet all your legal requirements before you start renting rooms.

Boarding houses (external link) — Tenancy Services

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