The Minister of Finance announced on 23 March 2020 a freeze of rent increases and an extension of no-cause terminations. This has been applied as law through the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Amendment Act.
These measures will support New Zealanders to stay in their rental properties with a six-month freeze on residential rent increases and 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.
- A rent increase notice from a landlord will not have the effect of increasing a tenant’s rent, unless the rent increase has already taken effect.
- Tenancies will not be terminated during the lockdown period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances, regardless of when notice was provided.
- Tenants will still be able to terminate their tenancy as normal, if they wish.
- 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 lockdown period.
The timeframes for the new measures are:
- The measures take effect by Thursday 26 March.
- The rent freeze applies for an initial period of six months.
- The protections against terminations will apply for an initial period of three months.
- At the end of both initial periods, the Government will evaluate whether they need to be extended.
Importantly, where a tenant has symptoms of COVID-19, or is confirmed as positive, this is not grounds for a landlord to terminate a tenancy. Nor is a tenant required to notify their landlord if they test positive for COVID-19. However, we encourage tenants to advise the landlord if the landlord needs to attend the property while the tenant is self-isolating, for example, if the landlord needs to undertake urgent repairs at the property.
We encourage landlords to talk to their tenants, work together and take care of each other wherever possible. Parties should try to come to an arrangement that suits them both. We need to work together and help each other to fight COVID-19.
For full information on the new measures and what they mean for landlords and tenants, please visit:
- The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development COVID-19 information page
- The Minister’s announcement on the Beehive website
For more tenancy-related information for landlords and tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic, read our news item.
General information about COVID-19 in New Zealand can be found on covid19.govt.nz.