Housing and tenancy regulatory system

This page describes the housing and tenancy regulatory system, its objectives and our qualitative assessment of it. It also lists the main statutes and changes to regulation either planned or in progress.

System description

The Housing and Tenancy Regulatory System sits within the broader context of the planning system, which is primarily governed by the Resource Management Act 1991, Local Government Act 2002, and the Land Transport Management Act 2003. We are not responsible for those key pieces of legislation but work with the relevant agencies to enable a well-functioning planning system.

The Housing and Tenancy Regulatory System establishes the legislative settings for residential housing in New Zealand. It regulates the provision and use of social housing, retirement villages, rental housing and housing including developments where multiple owners hold a type of property ownership known as a unit title.

Objective of the system

The system establishes:

  • rights and obligations of residential tenants and landlords
  • rules for ownership and management of unit title developments
  • a framework for both public and private ownership of social housing
  • rules to protect the interests of residents and intending residents of retirement villages and to enable the development of retirement villages.



System has some issues against criteria

During 2016/17 changes were made to the Residential Tenancies Act and regulations to improve the quality of rental homes by making them safer, warmer and healthier. Stronger enforcement provisions were included and other changes made to enable faster resolution of tenancy applications.

In 2017/18 further changes to the Residential Tenancies Act are being progressed. The stakeholder engagement on these changes has, again, demonstrated the range of views on the right balance of rights and responsibilities between property owners and tenants.

A particularly contentious issue is whether the level of tenure security is appropriate for modern rental expectations.

Changes to the Unit Titles Act 2010 are also being progressed in 2017/18 to ensure the framework for unit title developments is fit for purpose in a growing market. The changes will address issues relating to the disclosure regime, body corporate management and governance, long term maintenance planning, and the disputes regime.

In 2016/17 changes were made to the disputes resolution provisions in the Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 issued under the Retirement Villages Act 2003. These changes will make the process more user friendly for residents, less costly and faster. We work with Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission (which monitors the effects of the regulatory regime and advises on issues) to assess issues the Commission has identified. Stakeholders have raised issues about the power balance between operators and residents.


System performing well against criteria

Operational improvements and enhancements have been made to the Tenancy system, particularly within our Ministry. Better information and data is being collected on system performance and is being used in the reform processes.

The submissions on the recent reform processes demonstrate there is room for continuing improvements, eg, in the area of unit titles dispute resolution and landlord / tenant responsibilities to minimise unintended consequences and undue costs and burdens.

Stakeholders have identified a need for us to enhance the provision of easily accessible, accurate, and definitive information on the UTA and the sector.

Work is already underway to improve the quality of, and access to, information on our website relating to unit titles. Research to better understand the most effective approaches, , materials, and channels, with the full range of unit titles stakeholders was recently completed (June 2017). We are now our information for unit titles and reviewing how it is distributed.


System has some issues against criteria

The recent changes and proposed reforms have highlighted a number of areas of the current legislation and regulations that merit further review to establish whether they are fit-for-purpose for the current market.

With respect to unit titles, the number and size of complexes is growing rapidly. There are 3 drivers for this change:

  • our cities are becoming larger and the value of land has increased due to increased demand
  • people are looking for housing options to reduce commute times to the central city
  • our household size is becoming smaller and more diverse with a larger proportion of people both retired and younger without children.

The improvements being progressed are intended to better enable the system to cope.

There is value in undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the Residential Tenancies Act, given it was drafted 30 years ago and there have been underlying changes to the rental market. Changes are likely to be necessary to ensure the Act continues to be fit for purpose.

Amendments in 2016/17 to the disputes resolution provisions in the Retirement Villages Code of Practice 2008 put an emphasis on early resolution and the use of mediation. Data on disputes is being collected and work will be undertaken to analyse the impact of these changes and whether they are having the desired effect of making the process more user-friendly for residents.

Fairness and accountability

System has some issues against criteria

Information about the tenancy and unit titles system is provided on the Tenancy Services website, through information and education campaigns (including landlord seminars) and via the service centre contact lines. Information about the regulation of retirement villages is provided on our website. Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission provides information about retirement villages on its website as it is responsible under the Retirement Villages Act 2003 for promoting education about retirement village issues and to publish information about these. Contact with stakeholders is generally positive and feedback is taken into consideration when undertaking policy reforms and service design.

The Tenancy Services mediation and Tenancy Tribunal adjudication processes provide generally accessible and cost-effective dispute resolution forums for tenancy disputes. Further work is however being done to enhance dispute resolution processes

Last updated: 19 July 2021