Last year, provisions were added to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 which allowed victims of family violence to leave a tenancy at short notice. Tenancy Services has now published guidance around these provisions to provide more clarity.
Under the recent provisions, any tenant who experiences family violence while a tenant can withdraw from their tenancy by giving their landlord 2 days’ notice.
The notice should be given to the landlord in writing and should include the following information:
- The address of the premises of the tenancy
- The date that the withdrawal will take effect (at least 2 days)
- The name of the withdrawing tenant
- One form of evidence that the tenant has experienced family violence during their tenancy
While no regulations have yet been released on what sort of evidence is required to support withdrawing from a tenancy due to family violence, Tenancy Services has suggested the following:
- A letter or email from a medical professional, social worker or family violence service provider
- A Police Safety Order, a Protection Order or a charging document relating to family violence occurring during the tenancy
The landlord is not allowed to disclose the notice or the evidence unless the tenant gives their consent or the landlord makes disclosure for the purpose of legal proceedings or seeking legal advice. A landlord who unlawfully makes disclosure can be subject to a fine of up to $3,000.
As an alternative to giving notice, but only if the landlord agrees, the tenant can end the tenancy early without the need to provide notice or evidence.
If there are no other tenants under the tenancy, the tenancy terminates 2 days after the tenant has given notice to the landlord.
What if there are other tenants?
If there are other tenants under the tenancy, two days after the withdrawing tenant has given notice;
- The withdrawing tenant is no longer responsible to the landlord for their obligations under the tenancy agreement (except for anything done before the withdrawal)
- The tenancy continues for the remaining tenants
- The amount of rent the remaining tenants is reduced as below
The withdrawing tenant must give each remaining tenant notice of their withdrawal. This must be done no later than 2 days after their withdrawal from the tenancy. However a withdrawing tenant’s failure to give notice to the other tenants does not invalidate their withdrawal.
Reduction of rent for remaining tenants
Where there are remaining tenants after a tenant has withdrawn, the rent the remaining tenants must pay is reduced for the 2 weeks beginning the day after the date of withdrawal. It is calculated as below:
a = b ÷ c × d
a is the rent to be paid by the remaining tenants for the 2 weeks following the tenant’s withdrawal
b is the rent that would have been paid for the 2 weeks had the tenant not withdrawn
c is the number of tenants before the withdrawal
d is the number of tenants following the withdrawal
There are exceptions to this rent reduction. The rent will not be reduced if:
- the rent paid by the remaining tenants is income-related rent, or
- the tenancy is a Public and Community House Management Act tenancy e.g. Kāinga Ora housing or community housing
Regulations to support the new family violence provisions are expected to be in place in the beginning of 2023. In the meantime, it is best for both tenants and landlords to be aware of the provisions and how they work.