asks:
(updated on Thursday, March 25th 2021)

Can I introduce a written tenancy agreement to be signed by the tenant even though he has been occupying the premise for the 2 years without a written tenancy agreement?
Can I include no pets in the written agreement?
And any damages during occupancy (with or without a pet) the tenant is liable? If the tenant has introduced a pet to the property with my approval and without a written tenancy agreement in place can this be enforced by a separate "Pet Agreement" - composed by the landlord?

Our Experts Answer:

Regardless whether a written agreement exists, the Residential Tenancy Act applies and is still enforceable. Landlords may introduce a written agreement to confirm the verbal arrangements already in place, however any variations to the tenancy must be agreed to by both parties.

The tenancy agreement may specify whether the tenant can keep a pet in the property. It is important that a tenancy agreement sets out everything in writing and is signed and dated by both the landlord and tenant(s). Doing so shows both parties have agreed on the conditions and it is documented to avoid future confusion.

When it comes to damage caused by a pet, the tenant is responsible for any damage, other than fair wear and tear they cause, regardless whether it is intentional or not. Regular property inspections can ensure the tenants are maintaining the rental property as agreed, as well as ensuring the property continues to meet the standards of compliance.

If there was an agreement to allow pets in the property but it wasn't a written agreement at the start of the tenancy, both the landlord and tenant will need to agree on any new arrangements, such as not allowing pets in the property or imposing additional conditions to what was originally agreed upon.  Landlords should first talk to the tenant about the situation and try to reach an agreement regarding any variation.

For more on rules about pets, see Tenancy Services website: tenancy.govt.nz/starting-a-tenancy/tenancy-agreements/rules-about-pets


The tenancy agreement templates on the Tenancy Services website are good guides on the information required in the agreement. For more information on tenancy agreement clauses see: https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/starting-a-tenancy/tenancy-agreements/adding-conditions-to-the-tenancy-agreement/.

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