Renting your unit to a residential tenant
Both the Unit Titles Act 2010 (UTA) and the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA) apply to a tenant living in a rented unit in a unit title development.
When you enter into a residential tenancy agreement for your unit, you must include in the agreement a statement of any body corporate operational rules which affect the tenant. These rules are taken to be terms of the tenancy agreement.
Responsibilities of Unit Owners
It is important for unit owners to know their responsibilities under both the UTA and the RTA when renting out their unit. Some of these are listed below:
Under the RTA a landlord’s responsibilities to the tenant are to:
- promptly give written notice of any variation to the body corporate operational rules that affect the tenant
- make sure the property is clean and tidy before the tenant moves in
- make sure all the locks work and the property is reasonably secure
- maintain the property and do any necessary repairs
- ensure the plumbing, electrical wiring and the structure of the building is safe and working
- provide adequate water collection and storage for premises without reticulated water supply
- give 48 hours’ notice to inspect the property – but not more than once every four weeks and only between the hours of 8am and 7pm
- give 24 hours’ notice to do repairs and do them between the hours of 8am and 7pm.
Under the UTA a unit owner’s responsibilities to the body corporate and other unit owners and occupiers are to:
- repair and maintain the unit to ensure no damage or harm might be caused to the common property, infrastructure or other units
- obey the body corporate operational rules applying to the unit title development. The default rules (which apply unless amended by the body corporate) state that:
- an owner or occupier of a unit must not –
- damage or deface the common property
- leave rubbish or recycling material on the common property
- create noise likely to interfere with the use or enjoyment of the unit title development by other owners or occupiers
- park on the common property unless the body corporate has designated it for car parking, or the body corporate consents
- interfere with the reasonable use or enjoyment of the common property by other owners or occupiers.
- an owner or occupier of a unit must dispose of rubbish hygienically and tidily.
- permit the body corporate, or its agents, to enter the unit in an emergency or at any reasonable hour after giving reasonable notice for purposes including:
- to view the condition of the unit to ascertain compliance with the owners or occupier’s obligations under the UTA and the body corporate operational rules
- to maintain or repair infrastructure for services and utilities
- to maintain or repair common property.
If you are an owner who rents their unit to a tenant and are absent from New Zealand for three weeks or more, you must appoint an agent to manage the tenancy on your behalf. You must tell your body corporate who the agent is, so they can contact the agent if they have problems with your tenant. You should also tell the tenant, so they know who to deal with if tenancy issues arise.
What is the relationship between unit owners, tenants and the body corporate?
The tenant of a unit in a unit title development must comply with the body corporate rules. If a tenant has an issue with the body corporate or another occupier they should first talk to their landlord about resolving that issue.
Similarly, to resolve any issues with a tenant, the body corporate should go through the landlord/unit owner.
Are body corporate rules part of tenancy agreement?
Yes, body corporate operational rules that affect a tenant who rents a unit in a development are taken to be terms of their residential tenancy agreement, provided that it was entered into on or after 1 October 2010. The tenancy agreement must set out a statement of those rules.
A tenant of a unit under a tenancy agreement which was entered into before 1 October 2010 must still comply with the body corporate operational rules.
What happens when the rules change?
For residential tenancy agreement entered on or after 1 October 2010, the landlord must give the tenant notice in writing of any changes to the body corporate operational rules that affect the tenant. As soon as the tenant is notified of changes to the body corporate operational rules, the terms of the tenancy agreement are taken to be varied to include those changes.
If changes to the body corporate operational rules materially affect a fixed-term tenant, they can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal:
- for a market rent assessment. The tenant has 3 months after being notified of the change to apply.
- to end the fixed-term tenancy early if it would be unreasonable for the tenant to continue with the tenancy.
The kinds of rule changes that might materially affect a tenant include changes that might reduce the tenant’s access to common facilities, such as swimming pools, laundry areas or other services which were key to the tenancy.
Other occupiers of units in unit title developments
Other household members (such as spouses, partners, dependents and guests) must also follow the body corporate rules.
Where can I find more information?
For Unit Titles advice and information call 0800 UNIT TITLE (0800 86 48 84), visit the Unit title developments section of our website www.dbh.govt.nz or email us at email@example.com