Under the Residential Tenancy Act 1997 the Magistrates Court has responsibility to hear disputes and to make orders dealing with all residential tenancy matters. These are dealt with in the Civil Division as a Minor Civil Claim.
This leaflet is intended to assist property owners in their dealings with the Court and sample claims are available to help you provide the information needed by the Court.
Under the Residential Tenancy Act the Court may make orders for:
Residential tenancy agreements (RTA) can only be ended by one of the following:
You may apply for an order for urgent termination of a tenancy agreement (there is no 14 day waiting period) if the tenant has or is likely to cause either or both of the following:
Simply saying that the tenant may injure you or the property is damaged will not be enough to satisfy a Magistrate that the problem is urgent. Your claim should include details of any threats, damage, or physical injury, together with dates they were made or occurred.
(sample Notice to Vacate )
A Notice to Vacate may be served if either of the following occur:
A Notice to Vacate due to a breach of the RTA must give 14 clear days notice. An example of 14 clear days would be a Notice served on the 1st of the month with advice to the tenant to vacate by the 16th of the month.
A Notice to Vacate due to the end of the RTA must give 42 clear days notice. If the Notice is served within 42 days of the end of the RTA, the RTA continues on foot until 42 clear days have passed. If no Notice to Vacate is issued prior to the end of the RTA, the RTA becomes an Agreement of No Fixed Term upon the expiry of the fixed term RTA.
If the RTA is not for a fixed period and the premises are to be sold, renovated or used for a different purpose, 60 days clear notice must be given.
To be valid, a Notice to Vacate must also contain:
If the notice does not contain all this included information, then it will be invalid and the tenancy will not be ended.
If the tenant has not vacated the property after getting a notice you can make an application to the Court for vacant possession. To be valid the application must be served on the tenant a reasonable time before the Court hears the Application.
A copy of any written tenancy agreement must be provided to the Court.
The Court may make an order if (and only if):
Property owners and tenants may appeal to a magistrate against a decision by the Residential Tenancy Commissioner about the return of a security deposit. The appeal must be made within 7 days of the Commissioner's decision.
The appeal must be made against the tenant (not the Commissioner). Details of the dispute and the reasons for the appeal must be given. It will be a new hearing which allows you to call witnesses and present any other evidence.
You may apply to a magistrate for an order:
The application for an order must contain:
Applications for Repairs are made to Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading. More information is available on the Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading website.