Missing tenancy agreement

Question from Joyanne updated on 29th May 2017:

We have now been living in our home for about five months and we are still waiting to receive our copy of the tenancy agreement. We signed it the night before we moved in and then a week or so later they took our copy back. They said that was because they wanted to take a copy of it because they realized they had put the wrong rent and bond amount in or got the total wrong (or something to that effect).

We have asked several times for our copy of the tenancy agreement back. At first they replied with a "didn't realize we had it, but will try to find it". Then over the duration of the next few months when we asked about it several more times, they still hadn't found it.

Then, at the start of this week, I asked about it and our landlord said that we had totally missed a whole page of the tenancy agreement. We are supposed to get together to fix it up. My partner and I both agree we didn't miss a page. So I am curious if this is the case has our tenancy agreement been valid at all since we moved in? What does this mean for us?

Our expert Allan Galloway responded:

The Residential Tenancies Act states that every tenancy agreement shall be in writing and signed by both the landlord and the tenant, and a copy is to be given to the tenant before the tenancy starts. A tenancy agreement may still be valid if it is not in writing. Where there is no written agreement, the Act can still apply, including any terms and conditions that were agreed between the parties and are consistent with the renting law. 

The landlord must keep a copy of the tenancy agreement and any agreed variations or renewals of it during the tenancy, and for 12 months after the termination of the tenancy. The landlord cannot vary or change any of the terms or conditions that you had agreed; this would include details such as the rent and bond, unless consented, such as when the written agreement didn’t reflect the actual understanding between you both because of an error. It may be helpful to use the Tenancy Services’ Residential Tenancy Agreement as a guide for what should be in any tenancy agreement entered into after 1 July 2016.

Further, a 14-day notice to remedy (a letter asking the landlord to fix the problem) may be issued to the landlord if a copy of the tenancy agreement is not provided. A copy of the tenancy agreement and 14 day notice can be downloaded from our website www.tenancy.govt.nz If the landlord changes the agreement without your consent and you believe the details are not what you agreed, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. Receipts or bank records for payment of rent in advance and the bond, advertisements or correspondence between you both before the tenancy commenced may assist with proving the agreed weekly rent and bond.

For more on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, go to www.tenancy.govt.nz.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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