Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act

Law changes to the Residential Tenancies Act came into force on 1st July 2016.

Key changes are as follows:

Smoke Alarms:

  • Landlords will need to have working smoke alarms installed in all their residential rental homes. Any replacement alarms installed after that date will need to have long life batteries and a photoelectric sensor. Hardwired smoke alarms are also permitted.
  • Tenants will be responsible for replacing worn-out batteries in the smoke alarms and informing their landlord of any defects.
  • Tenancy Services Landlord Pack click here to view the pack that the Government has put together for landlords. 


  • All residential rental homes in New Zealand will be required to have insulation. Installing or maintaining conductive foil insulation in residential and rental homes is now banned. For a limited time EECA are running a partly subsidised programme for rentals. 

Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes Rentals Programme - Criteria for insulation funding

Grants are available through the EECA Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme for ceiling and underfloor insulation for rental properties occupied by low-income tenants.

How to apply for insulation funding

If you are a tenant or landlord and would like to apply for funding, contact one of the service providers listed on the EECA Energywise website. Be aware that funding is limited, and projects may not cover all regions, or all areas within a region. Please check with the listed service providers to find out if they are operating in your location.

  • Landlords are required to provide a statement on the tenancy agreement for any new tenancy commencing 1 July 2016 about the location, type and condition of insulation in the rental home.

Tenancy abandonment process strengthened:

  • The new law introduces an expedited process for a landlord to regain possession of their rental property when the property has been abandoned. The expedited process for regaining possession will enable a Tenancy Adjudicator to decide the case based on evidence landlords have provided in their expedited abandonment application. Landlords will not need to be present when the Adjudicator considers the evidence under this new process. The new process will allow a landlord access to their abandoned property, between 7 and 14 days sooner.  These changes will enable faster resolution of tenancy abandonment cases, thereby allowing rental properties to be re-let more quickly.

Retaliatory notice

  • It is now an unlawful act for a landlord to end a tenancy in retaliation for a tenant exercising a right under the tenancy agreement, the relevant law, or by making a complaint relating to the tenancy. This is called a ‘retaliatory notice’ under the Residential Tenancies Act. Tenants who take direct action against landlords will now be able to challenge an alleged retaliatory notice up to 28 working days after it has been issued.

Enhanced enforcement function

  • The Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will have greater enforcement powers, including investigating and taking proceedings to the Tribunal on behalf of the tenant, even without the tenant’s consent.