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Tenancy and Insurance

Damage to property

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No. 2) became law in 2019, affecting a tenant’s liability for damage. Under the law if a tenant causes careless damage to a property they are required to pay either four weeks’ rent or the landlord’s insurance excess (whichever amount is lower) to cover the damage. Tenants should keep in mind that this also applies if their guests damage the property.

Landlord responsibilities

landlords must provide insurance information in any new tenancy agreement. Insurance information provided should include insurance excess costs. Landlords must also include an insurance statement informing their tenants that their insurance policy can be made available on request. This is important as to ensure tenants understand how much they will need to pay if they cause accidental damage to rental property,

What is the difference between contents and renters’ insurance?

Insurers will often offer insurance specifically targeted towards tenants called renters’ insurance. Renters’ insurance is often the same as contents insurance, although sometimes these policies are more affordable than contents insurance. It’s important to ensure the value of your belongings is covered when taking out tenant property insurance. Renters’ Insurance (or Contents Insurance) will also often offer you Legal Liability cover, which is worth having. This means that you will be covered by your insurance when accidents happen outside your home. One example might be if you lose control of your shopping trolley and it veers into a parked car – you would be covered by your insurance company for legal liability. All insurance policies differ, however, so it’s important to read the fine print.

Insuring earthquake-damaged properties

Tenants should do extra research if they are looking at renting an earthquake-damaged home, as insurers may not cover these properties.

Remedy to fix

Both landlords and tenants have the right to issue a 14-day notice to remedy damage if the other party has been asked to fix something but they haven’t. If either party does not comply with the notice to remedy, the affected party can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for help. If damage is substantial, landlords can apply directly to the Tribunal without serving the 14-day notice.


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