Find out what to do if a lease agreement has been breached by the lessee (the tenant) or the lessor (the landlord).
What is a breach of lease?
A breach of lease happens if either the lessee or the lessor breaks one of the terms in the lease agreement. For example, if:
- the whenua is taken over by gorse
- no money is received from the lessee
- the fences are not being maintained.
Breaches can happen for different reasons, and can be minor and pretty easy to sort, or major and expensive. It can take a lot of time and mahi to sort these out.
What to do if a breach happens
Ideally you want to avoid breaches in the first place. Taking your time before starting a lease to find the right tenant is key. It's important to have a solid, trusting relationship with the tenant so that when issues come up you can work through them together.
If a breach is discovered, start by discussing it and work together to agree a plan and timeframes for how it can be fixed. If the lessee (or lessor) does not remedy the breach, you can take legal action.
The lessee and lessor might decide together to end the lease early and that the one that's in the wrong will pay an agreed amount of money, including money to cover the cost of the breach. If this is the case, make sure this money is not distributed to owners — it must be used to fix the issue.
Terminating a lease due to a breach
If you can't agree a remedy for the breach or the lessee fails to act, you can terminate the lease and/or take legal action.
If you decide to terminate the lease due to any unresolved breaches, you should seek legal advice on how to approach this and speak to a kaimahi at Māori Land Court.