new rules for renters

New rules good for renters

New rules about who has to pay for accidental damage to rentals are a step in the right direction

People who rent their homes have it pretty tough in New Zealand. Compared to lots of other countries, it’s pretty easy to get evicted or have your rent raised. You can get in trouble for something as simple as putting a poster on the wall.

That’s why it’s been great to see a recent development that will help give renters a fairer deal.

Earlier this year, the courts decided that tenants aren’t liable for accidental damage to their home, as long as the damage is properly accidental.

This has long been the case for commercial rented property, but not residential rented homes.

The court decision is good, because previously some homes will have been “double insured”, with tenants and landlords both paying insurance for the same accidental damage scenario. Others won’t have been insured at all. So it’s good to have some clear legal rules about who is liable for what.

You can imagine that some landlords have got a bit nervous about this.

Some landlords have said it could push rents up. That’s not fair – insurance and accidental damage should be a normal budgeted contingency for any business, including landlords.

Landlords don’t need to worry. Most tenants are good tenants. Those who cause deliberate damage will still be liable for it. Accidents do happen, and that’s why insurance exists.

Besides, most landlords are in it for the capital gain – which still isn’t taxed properly – when they one day sell their investment property. If they’ve invested wisely, they’ll make a six figure profit.

I’d like to see other changes to tenancy rules too. These include a WOF for rentals to make sure they’re safe, warm, and dry, and more secure tenancies so people can put down roots in their community if they want to.

More and more Kiwis live in rented homes. Let’s make sure these homes are good ones.

There’s more information about who is responsible for different kinds of damage on the Tenancy Services website at