Many landlords don’t realise that the Residential Tenancy Act has some strict requirements on what you must do if you are managing a rental property and go overseas on an extended holiday or to live. Failing to follow these obligations could actually get you a hefty fine.
So, what do you need to do if you will be away from New Zealand for more than 21 consecutive days?
1. Appoint an Agent
The law requires that if you are living, working or traveling overseas for more than three weeks you must appoint an agent to act on your behalf. This person can be a friend, family member or a property manager. However, it is recommended by Tenancy Services that “you should appoint someone who is fully aware of, and able to fulfill their responsibilities as your agent.”
Should the tenant encounter any issues, which they would normally bring to you, they will need to contact the agent instead. The agent will have the same legal responsibilities, requirements and obligations that a regular landlord has. Therefore, this person must be able to quickly make decisions, and if necessary, action tradesmen to make required repairs.
It is a good idea to leave your agent a list of preferred tradespeople, and to allocate a budget for repairs your agent can use without needing to contact you.
Failing to appoint an agent could result in you being liable for exemplary damages of up to $1000 under the Residential Tenancies Act.
2. Inform The Tenant
Once you have chosen your agent and confirmed, ideally in writing, that they are willing and able to act on your behalf, you need to notify your tenant.
You will need to provide the tenant with the following details:
- The name of the agent (Company name and property managers name, if using one).
- The contact details of the agent including an address for service. Ideally you should pass on a cell phone number, landline number, email and postal address.
- How long this person will be the contact person for, if a friend or family member has been assigned.
3. Contact Tenancy Services
Before you leave New Zealand you will need to complete a Change of Landlord form with the agent and send it through to Tenancy Services.
When you return from overseas, and if you are wanting to take back the management of the property, you will need to complete the same form again to reverse the change and send it through to Tenancy Services.
You can find a copy of the Change of Landlord form at:-
If you are going to be away from New Zealand for an extended period of time using a professional property manager, rather than choosing a friend or family member, is a good idea. Since they are working in the industry, they already understand a landlord’s obligations and what they can and cannot do. A property manager can also ensure your rental receives regular inspections, that the rents are being paid on time, can keep a clear record of all payments and ensure any repairs are dealt with in a timely manner.