Can our landlord kick us out if we don't have a written tenancy agreement?

Question Details: If our landlord does not give us a tenancy agreement to sign for months, but we have been living in the flat and paying rent, can he kick us out for no reason anytime, or do we still have a lease agreement? We have an oral agreement, but nothing written and nothing registered.

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Answers by Lawyers

Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

Even if you don't have a written tenancy agreement, your landlord cannot kick you out without notice.

The law says that your tenancy agreement should be signed and in writing. Your landlord can be penalised if it isn't. However, even if the tenancy agreement is not signed or not in writing, you still have the protection of the Residential Tenancies Act.

The terms of the tenancy agreement will be whatever you have verbally agreed with the landlord, and the rights and responsibilities under the Act. So your landlord cannot simply kick you out at any time. He will have to give you the notice the law requires him to give.

If you have agreed how long the tenancy will last (that is, it is a "fixed term tenancy") he cannot kick you out before the end date unless he gets an order from the Tenancy Tribunal.

If you have not agreed a fixed end date with your landlord you will have what is known as a "periodic tenancy". You can end your tenancy by giving your landlord 21 days’ written notice to end the tenancy, unless the landlord agrees to a shorter notice period. Your landlord usually has to give you at least 90 days’ notice.

There are some circumstances when the landlord only has to give you 42 days' notice, and you can read about those here: The notice must say the reason for the short notice.

If you are having trouble with your landlord, contact your Community Law Centre or call the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY.

Answered 15 Jul 2012. The IMPORTANT NOTICE below is part of this answer.

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