Sex work rental breach?

Question from Paul updated on 12th October 2018:

I have let my property on a fixed term 12-month tenancy. I suspect that one of the two is a lady-boy sex worker working from the address.

I am considering a 14 day letter, I believe that it will allow for an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to terminate the tenancy under two provisions: 40(2)(c) that the tenant shall not interfere "with the reasonable peace, comfort, or privacy of any other person residing in the neighbourhood" or 40 Tenant’s responsibilities (1) The tenant shall (b) ensure that the premises are occupied principally for residential purposes.

What do you think?

Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

A landlord may issue a “letter to remedy” if they believe the tenant is in breach of their responsibilities under the tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act, and it is a breach that can be fixed e.g: rent arrears, or disturbing the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of others. A landlord should discuss any concerns with their tenant to help assess whether a breach is occurring.

If the breach is not fixed and the landlord is also seeking to have the tenancy agreement terminated by the Tenancy Tribunal, they must give the tenant not less than 14 days to do so (known as a ‘14-day notice or letter to remedy’). The Tenancy Tribunal will consider the facts and evidence of any application in accordance with the RTA, and decide on an appropriate decision on a case-by-case basis. This can resolve the issue(s) in the application if a breach is established.

A tenant can use the rental for commercial purposes so long as the rental is still used principally for residential purposes whilst meeting their tenant responsibilities under the RTA. Any use must be lawful, for example, the use must comply with local council bylaws and other enactments. If you would like further information about requirements relating to brothels and sex work in New Zealand please contact the relevant local council for further information.

For more on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, go to or subscribe to our e-newsletter Tenancy Matters here

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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