As a landlord, it is extremely important to meet all your obligations. Otherwise, you run the risk of receiving some pretty hefty fines.

All landlord penalties are avoidable. Knowing your responsibilities is the first step to being safe, and making sure you meet these responsibilities is second.

Here are some cases where non-compliance on the landlord’s side ended in unwanted bills.

Case 1: Smoke alarms

In January 2017, Auckland landlord Arie Sterk was fined $2,000 for failing to install smoke alarms in their rental property. Although this seems expensive, it is only half of what the landlord could have received with 4,000 dollars being the maximum smoke alarm penalty.

It’s hard to know if the landlord did not realise that this was their responsibility. However, installing smoke alarms is a standard procedure to keep your property and your tenants safe. Although it is the tenants’ responsibility to replace smoke alarm batteries, it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure they are there.

Case 2: Smoke alarms, insulation, and gas.

In April 2018, Christchurch landlord Lina Liu was fined $4,100 for:

  • having a non-compliant gas source for the property,
  • failing to give a statement about the property’s insulation, and
  • failing to have smoke alarms in the property.

Liu was fined $4,000 for the health and safety breach that the non-compliant gas and absent smoke alarms presented. She was also fined another 100 dollars for failing to give an insulation statement.

Again, something simple like failing to cover a responsibility in the tenancy agreement can end up costing landlords. Making sure you’re aware of your obligations is therefore vital. This is not difficult and using the Tenancy Services resources is great way of making sure you meet your obligations.

Case 3: Lodging bond

In September 2017, Invercargill landlord Murray Baird was fined $38,713.76 for failing to lodge the bonds for 54 separate tenancies.

Lodging a bond is generally the next step after a tenancy agreement has been signed, with landlords being given 23 days (from payment) to lodge their bond with Tenancy Services. Although a 40,000 dollar fine might seem a little steep, Baird’s failure to lodge over 50 bonds is significant – hence being reflected in the penalty served.

Baird’s case is a strong reminder that there are legal obligations landlords need to keep in mind. These can be found in the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (which is currently being revised), with Tenancy Services also being a reliable source for landlord information.


As a landlord, it can be difficult to know that you are doing everything required of you, especially if you’re new to the market. It is important to understand the RTA and to talk to other long-time landlords to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Featured photo by Vitaly Taranov on Unsplash

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