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 the Commission for Financial Capability (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 three 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. The Commission for Financial Capability 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

Key service design and operational changes

August 2016 to July 2017

Formed in July 2016, the Tenancy Compliance and Investigations team has over the last year developed its compliance strategy, and begun to utilise its powers under the Residential Tenancies Act.

August 2017 to July 2018

From 1 July 2017, we have grouped all of our housing and tenancy services within a single branch, so to deliver a seamless, effective experience for those with whom we interact. The new branch will include tenancy bonds, tenancy and unit titles information and mediation and tenancy compliance and investigation services.

Planned regulatory amendments to legislation for 2017/2018

Matter name Policy implementation Planned consultation  Status

Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Orders

Matter type:

Legislative Instrument

Orders in Council declaring land in a particular district (identified in Schedule 1 of the Act) to be a special housing area under HASHA.

Consultation will be undertaken if new areas are proposed.

Orders in Council will be progressed if required.

Regulatory Systems Amendment Bill 2

Matter type: Bills

Technical Amendments to the Housing Restructuring and Tenancy Matters Act 1992 and the Retirement Villages Act 2003.

Exposure Draft of the Bill to be released in August 2017.

The Bill is expected to be introduced to the House of Representatives in November 2017 subject to the legislative programme.

Point England Development Enabling Bill

Matter type: Bills

The Bill makes available for housing development 11.69 hectares of Crown land at Point England Recreation Reserve in Tamaki, Auckland by giving this parcel a separate title, revoking its reserve status and providing it with an enabling zoning (Mixed Housing Urban).

Consultation completed.

The Bill received its Second Reading on 23 May 2017.

TBC – currently awaiting Committee of the Whole (Fourth on the Order Paper on 8 June).

Residential Tenancies (Tenant Liability and Other Matters) Amendment Bill

Matter type: Bills

Amends the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 to address issues related to liability for damage to rental premises caused by a tenant; methamphetamine contamination in rental properties; and tenancies over rental premises which are unlawful for residential use.

The Bill is expected to be referred to the Social Services Committee for a standard six month select committee process.

The Bill was introduced to the House of Representatives on 23 May 2017.

Unit Titles Act Amendment Bill

Matter type: Bills

Amends the Unit Titles Act 2010 to ensure the legislative framework for unit title owners is flexible, and works for both small and large bodies corporate as the unit titles market grows and matures.

Consultation completed on the discussion document. Further consultation to be undertaken in 2017.

Final policy approvals obtained from Cabinet in August 2017.

Urban Development Authorities Bill

Matter type: Bills

The Bill introduces new legislation enabling local and central government to empower nationally or locally significant urban development projects to access more enabling development powers and land use rules; and establish new urban development authorities to support these projects where required.

Discussion document released in February 2017. Further consultation to be undertaken in 2017.

Policy approvals to be obtained from Cabinet in July 2017.

Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2)

Matter type: Bills

Higher minimum standards of heating and insulation

Submissions were called for as part of the Select Committee process.

Select Committee reported back in June 2017.

Riccarton Racecourse Development Enabling Order 2017

Matter type: Legislation Instrument

Enabling housing development at Riccarton Racecourse.

Consultation completed.

Order was approved on 15 May 2017.

Unit Titles Amendment Regulations 2017

Matter type: Legislation Instrument

Consequential amendments to regulations as a consequence of amendments made to the Unit Titles Act through the Regulatory Systems (Building and Housing) Amendment Act 2017.

Amendments to the principal Act were consulted on during the legislative process for the Regulatory Systems (Building and Housing) Amendment Act 2017.

Regulations came into force on 30 May 2017.