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How do I evict tenants from my rental property?

By : 2019-12-10
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Evicting a tenant is an extreme measure—one best avoided if at all possible. But if you’ve run out of options and all attempts to resolve and mediate have fallen through, here’s what you need to know before you proceed.

The difference between notice and eviction

Giving notice and eviction are not the same thing. A notice to end the tenancy is the standard procedure for ending a tenancy in New Zealand, however, a few rules apply. Eviction is a last resort and can only be done if you have a Mediated Order or an Order of the Tribunal from the Tenancy Tribunal.

Important! As a landlord, you cannot evict a tenant yourself. You must get a Mediated Order or an Order of the Tribunal from the Tenancy Tribunal.

Read more: How do I give notice to end a tenancy agreement? 

 

When you can evict a tenant

Only in specific circumstances can you evict a tenant in New Zealand. This is an extreme measure and should only be done when all other options have been exhausted.

Under New Zealand law, a landlord may start the eviction process if the tenants:

  • Owe more than 21 days in rent arrears.
  • Have caused or threatened to cause substantial damage to your rental property.
  • Have assaulted, or threatened to assault, you (the landlord), your property manager or a member of your family.
  • Have not acted upon a 14-day notice to remedy for a breach of the tenancy agreement (e.g. illegal activities). 

 

What is the formal process?

1. Apply for a Mediated Order or an Order of the Tribunal

If you are left with no other option but to evict your tenant, you must apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a Mediated Order or an Order of the Tribunal. This may require a Tenancy Tribunal hearing.

2. Inform the tenant

If the Tenancy Tribunal grants you a Mediated Order or an Order of the Tribunal, you must give your tenant notice—either in person or attached to the front door of the property. Once you’ve given notice, your tenant has 48 hours to vacate the property. 

Important! You may ONLY take back possession of the property if your tenant has vacated it.

 

What if the tenant doesn’t vacate?

If your tenant does not leave the property, you must not take it over. Do not enter the property or change the locks. Instead, you must apply for a warrant to evict from the Ministry of Justice. The warrant will be sent to a bailiff to enforce the eviction. They will arrange a date and time with you for the eviction, inform the tenant of said date and time they must leave the property, and return the property to you at the agreed time.

Only once you’ve legally taken possession back from the bailiff should you arrange for the locks to be changed.

 

The cost of getting it wrong

Failing to follow the correct procedure for evicting a tenant can lead to significant penalties. In one incident, a landlord took back possession of their property too soon—cancelling the lease, changing the locks, and seizing the tenants’ possessions—all without a Mediated Order or an Order of the Tribunal. The decision to unlawfully evict cost the landlord $200,000 in the Supreme Court.

In short, if you evict, follow the law to the letter. 

 

Learning to manage a rental property can be a steep learning curve, but with the right guidance you can make the curve smoother and less stressful. With our guide, you can learn the essential (and legal) need-to-knows of being a landlord.

Download the Rental Property Management guide