Selling guide

How does selling a rental property with tenants work in NZ?

A guide for landlords & tenants

Last updated: 23 April 2024


Selling a property can be tricky but the process is easier when both parties understand their rights and when landlords respect the fact that their property is the tenant’s home. Let’s take a closer look. 

Sale of property notice to tenant

Landlords must provide tenants with notice that they’re selling their property either before they list it for sale or at the same time. This gives the tenants time to think about what they’d like to do and starts a conversation between landlord (or property manager) and tenant. 

Options when selling a house with tenants in NZ

Generally, there are two ways that things can go when a landlord sells a tenanted house:

1. Selling vacant

The buyer wants vacant possession, or the landlord wants to market the house without tenants in it. If this is the option, the landlord needs to give the correct amount of notice. More on this later. 

2. Selling tenanted

If the buyer wants the tenants to stay on, they can continue renting to the tenants after purchasing - this should be stipulated in the sale and purchase agreement. The new landlord can use the same tenancy agreement, but the landlord’s names and details must be updated and the landlord’s name and contact details must be provided to the tenant. 

The new landlord doesn’t have the right to change the terms of the tenancy agreement after the sale. Both the old and new landlord must also complete a change of landlord or agent form if the bond is held with tenancy services. Once the bond is transferred, the old landlord can no longer make any claims on the bond. 

Download change of landlord or agent form here.

Any landlord selling a property should always remember its their tenant's home.

Notice periods: Rights for tenants during a property sale

The landlord must respect the tenants’ rights when selling a property and follow the correct notice periods:

  • If the tenant is on a periodic tenancy the landlord must provide 90 days written notice to end the tenancy, whether they want the property vacant for marketing or vacant when the new owner takes possession. 

  • If the landlord provides notice so that the property is vacant for marketing, they must list the property for sale within 90 days of the tenancy ending.

  • Fixed term tenancies can’t be ended early regardless of whether the property is selling unless both tenant and landlord agree to it in writing. If the tenancy stated before 11 February, the landlord must give 90-21 days notice before the fixed term expires to end the tenancy. If the tenancy started after that date they must give 28 days notice. 

For more information on giving notice to end a tenancy, read our blog here. 

There are a couple different ways selling a house with tenants can work.

Tenants rights for viewings

During the sale, the landlord, real estate agent and all other parties must respect the tenant’s privacy and get permission to enter the property to show through real estate agents, photographers, buyers, valuers or any other person. 

Tenants can’t unreasonably deny access but they can set conditions, including:

  • Limiting access to certain times or days of the week that work for them. 

  • Refuse open homes and auctions at the property and instead require viewings by appointments only. 

  • Refusing to allow photographs of their personal possessions. 

The tenant can also request a rent reduction for the inconvenience and demand to be present in the home at all times. During this process, it’s always best to communicate clearly and respectfully,whether you’re a landlord or tenant. Landlords should be as organised as possible when it comes to arranging access and provide a schedule for the tenant’s reference if possible. It’s a good idea for the tenant, real estate agent and landlord to sign the schedule. 

If the tenant suspects that the landlord isn’t really intending to sell the house but is saying that to end the tenancy they can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal using this online form.

Author

Ben Tutty
Ben Tutty

Ben Tutty is a regular contributor for Trade Me and he's also contributed to Stuff and the Informed Investor. He's got 10+ years experience as both a journalist and website copywriter, specialising in real estate, finance and tourism. Ben lives in Wānaka with his partner and his best mate (Finnegan the whippet).