Landlords' recourse for late paying tenants

Sid Eru asks:
(updated on Tuesday, April 08th 2008)

As I landlord is there any advice you can give me. the current tenants who are renting my property, who for the last month have been paying there rent with personal cheques which have been dishonoured, & there I have to fork out all the costs via bank.

Our Experts Answer:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 requires that tenants pay their rent on the date it is due – this requirement is not met when a tenant provides a cheque that is later dishonoured. If your tenants’ rent is less than 21 days in arrears, you can give them a 10 working days’ notice, a letter that advises them:
a) they haven’t met their responsibility to pay the rent when it was due, and
b) they have 10 working days to fix the situation. (You can access a template 10 working days’ notice from the Department of Building and Housing website (

If the matter is not remedied within the 10 working day timeframe specified in your notice, you can then apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for help. If your tenants’ rent is more than 21 days in arrears, you can file a Tenancy Tribunal application immediately. After you have applied to the Tenancy Tribunal, the first step in the process is mediation. This is an opportunity for you and your tenant to discuss the problem, with a mediator present. If an agreement is reached that is suitable to you both, the mediator will write a mediated order detailing the agreement. If an agreement is not reached, the application will go on to a Tenancy Tribunal hearing, and an adjudicator will make an order determining the issues raised in the application. You can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) for information and advice about making a Tenancy Tribunal application.

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.


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