Valid tenancy agreement?

Question from Mike updated on 14th August 2017:

I was looking to rent a property but dealing with the property manager has really put us off the place. We were offered the property to which I responded with a request to review the property again before any agreements or documents were signed. We were rudely declined and they persisted with urging us to sign and pay the letting fee - which we never did. We then turned down the property and now the property manager wants to hold us liable for rent and the letting fee if they cannot find another tenant. Can this be done? Nothing has been agreed to or signed.

Our expert Allan Galloway responded:

Tenancy agreements are generally valid and binding on both parties when a) an offer is made to rent a property; b) an agreement between the two parties on the terms and conditions of the tenancy is accepted; and c) there has been an agreement to the exchange of benefits between both parties (e.g. paying rent in exchange for occupation of the rental).

Tenancy agreements should be in writing. However, they may still be enforceable where an agreement has been made verbally. If you are unable to agree as to whether or not a Tenancy Agreement is valid, then either party as the proposed landlord or tenant can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.

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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