My tenant trashed the house, but I don't have a tenancy agreement, what can I do?

Question from Denise Haines updated on 5th September 2008:

I have a tenant without a tenancy agreement as he seemed a nice person, this trust has been misplaced. He has not paid rent for the last 6 weeks and has removed a garden in the property, moved a garden shed without contacting me, he has caused considerable damage to the inside of the house. His bond that has been paid does not cover the rent arrears, or damage. How can I evict this tenant? Hopefully without him doing any more damage, also how can I get the damage and the rent arrears paid. Next time it will be done with an agreement. The property is in Hastings and I have moved to Auckland for work. Thanks for your advice.

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

This question shows the importance of always having a tenancy agreement and running your properties professionally. Tenancy agreement forms are available free of charge from our website. You can still apply to the Tenancy Tribunal even though you do not have a written agreement. Compensation for damage will be more difficult to prove without having the inspection report that is normally completed when a tenancy agreement is signed, but it may be possible.

The Tenancy Tribunal may terminate a tenancy if the tenant’s rent is 21 days or more in arrears, or if the tenant has caused substantial damage to the premises. You can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the tenancy terminated, and ask for orders for the rent arrears and compensation for the damage to the property. You may also ask for the bond to be refunded to you to go towards the amount the tenant owes you You can make a Tenancy Tribunal application online at, or can complete a paper application form and submit it by post, fax, or email.

Paper application forms are available from the Department of Building and Housing (phone 0800 836 262) or from the local Citizens Advice Bureau. You can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) from Monday to Friday between 8 am and 5.30 pm for more advice and information 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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