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Unenforceable Lease Clauses in NZ: A Detailed Overview

In New Zealand, the landlords and the tenants have rights and responsibilities called the Lease Clauses in New Zealand when renting a property. By knowing them, both parties will be on the same page and will be able to stand up in case there will be issues in the future.

When renting a home, you have the right as a tenant as indicated in the Lease Clauses in New Zealand to enjoy the rental property and not be disturbed by others, including your landlord. You also have rights to rent increases, bonds, insulation, and inspections.

Even if the rules are clear on what the landlords can put on the tenancy agreement, they write lease clauses that are sometimes inconsistent with the law. These lease clauses are considered unenforceable, even if the tenant has agreed to them.

Lease Clause
Lease Clause

There are even cases where the lease clauses conditions that the landlord is adding are complete violations of tenancy laws. In this case, their actions are unlawful, and you can bring them to court. The Tenancy Tribunal in New Zealand is serious about it and may require the landlord to pay for the damages to the tenant because of the unlawful act.

Here are some conditions in a tenancy agreement where they are deemed unlawful or unenforceable.

  • The lease clauses are different from the requirements of RTA. The exception is when they favour the tenant.
  • The lease clause tries to remove or diminish the rights of the tenants.
  • The lease clause is directing the tenant to do more than is legally required.

Lease Clauses Common Unenforceable Conditions

We have listed some of the most common unenforceable lease clause conditions that might appear on tenancy agreements drafted by the landlord or property management companies. You can also find the reasons that are deemed unenforceable.

Length of Tenancy Agreement

  • Notice to terminate cannot be given in the first six months in a periodic tenancy: There are two types of tenancy agreement: periodic and fixed. The tenant can give 21 days’ notice to terminate the lease at any time if the contract is periodic.
  • The tenant must give more than 21 days’ written notice to end a periodic tenancy: According to RTA the tenant only needs to give 21 days’ notice to end a periodic tenancy.
  • This is a fixed-term tenancy contract. The tenancy can be extended if the tenant passes the inspection: Landlords are not allowed to grant a tenancy of 90 days or less or renew if they decide to do so.


  • Tenants must pay a lettering fee equivalent to one week’s rent: Letting fees were banned in December 2018.
  • The landlord can increase the rent in two weeks notice: The ACT clearly states that rate increases can only happen once every 12 months.
  • The landlord can raise the rent if they find additional people living in the property: The landlord cannot simply increase the rent if they find the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement.
  • If the rent is not paid on time, the tenant has the right to keep the tenant’s car until the payment is made: The ACT states that the landlord is not allowed to seize the tenant’s belongings for any reason arising from the tenancy, including issues around the rent.

Other Charges

  • These cover additional charges like the cost of a credit check, deposit for the lawnmower, content insurance, or lost keys.
  • The tenant must pay an admin fee to renew, change, or extend the tenancy: This is an example of charging key money, which is unlawful.
  • The tenant can have a dog if they pay two weeks’ extra bond: The landlord cannot ask for a bond more than or equal to four weeks’ rent.

Cleanliness, health and safety, repairs and inspections

  • Carpets must be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy: The tenant is required only to leave the property in a clean and tidy condition. If the carpet is visibly stained or dirty at the end of the tenancy, then a professional cleaning company may be required.
  • Tenants cannot smoke anywhere on the premises: This clause is very broad and would include not smoking outside. As this affects the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the rented property, it is considered unenforceable.
  • The tenant is responsible for fixing or replacing things like fuses, tap washers, and stove elements: the tenant is responsible for keeping the property at a reasonable state of repair.


Sometimes the additional clauses in your tenancy agreement are necessary, but they should be within the bounds of the law. Whether you are a tenant or landlord, you should know these guidelines. Otherwise, you might find yourself facing the Tribunal and get an unfavourable ruling.

If you are looking for an end of tenancy cleaning service, contact Premium Clean. The extensive move-out cleaning checklist at Premium Clean can guarantee you will get your bond back.


  • Adding additional terms to a tenancy agreement –


Last Updated on May 21, 2024

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