On the 23rd of March 2020, the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson announced a freeze of rent increases and an extension of no-case terminations in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been applied as law through the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Amendment Act.
This will help New Zealanders stay securely in their rental properties with a 6-month freeze on rent increases It also provides increased protection from having their tenancies terminated. The key changes for landlords and tenants to be aware of are:
⚠️ There is now a freeze on rent increases
⚠️ Any rent increase notices from a landlord will not have the effect of increasing a tenant’s rent unless the rent increase has already taken effect
⚠️ Terminations of tenancies cannot occur with the lockdown period except where limited and specific justified reasons apply. The Tenancy tribunal will act as a check to ensure these grounds are used lawfully. These reasons are:
– Where the tenant substantially damages the premises
– Assaults or threatens the landlord, the family or neighbours
– Abandons the property
– Engages in significant anti-social behaviour
– 60 days behind in rent, unless both parties agree
⚠️ Tenants will still be able to terminate their tenancy as normal if they wish
⚠️ All tenants will have the ability to revoke termination notices that they have already given, in case they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period
The time frame for the new measures are:
⚠️ They take effect with 24 hours
⚠️ A rent freeze applies for six months
⚠️ Policy terminations will initially apply for three months
⚠️ At the end of the 3 and 6 month periods, the Government will evaluate whether they need to be extended.
Note: a landlord cannot terminate a tenancy because the tenant has been confirmed with COVID-19. In addition, the tenant is not required to notify their landlord if they test positive for COVID-19. We do, however, encourage tenants to advise the landlord in case the landlord or their agents need to visit the property while the tenant is in isolation.
Rueben is an entrepreneur with 20 years of business experience in a number of sectors. In the past decade, Rueben has worked a handful of technology startups (e.g. Timely) in the area of digital sales and marketing. In addition, he has run a social media marketing agency since 2013. He currently owns a property management company based in Dunedin.
You can check out more about his background and follow his VLOG on his Linkedin profile.