The Minister of Finance announced on 23 March 2020 a freeze of rent increases and an extension of no-clause terminations. This has 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 lock-down 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 lock-down period.
The time frames for the new measures are:
- The measures take effect by Thursday 26th March 2020.
- 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.
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
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
This article is featured in Harcourts' Property Management Focus Issue 3, 2020.