Section 59 of Residential Tenancies Act

Depending on the extent of damage incurred during a natural disaster, tenants may wish to remain at the property or may otherwise prefer to end the lease.

There are several ways a rental agreement can be altered in these circumstances:

  1. If a property remains liveable, the rent may be temporarily reduced until the property has been restored to its previous condition.
  2. If the tenant must vacate the property until repairs are complete, the rent will be abated until the tenant moves back into the property.
  3. The tenancy may be terminated.

The Residential Tenancy Act states that a landlord giving notice of termination for reason that the property is so seriously damaged, as to be declared uninhabitable, must give not less than 7 days, and where a tenant gives such notice, their period of notice shall be not less than 2 days. In this case, all rent will cease immediately. If the property is only partially damaged, the tenant or landlord must apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for termination.

In most cases, landlords and tenants will be able to reach an agreement about the best way to handle any repairs and modify the rental agreement. Any agreements that are made should be documented in writing, with each party retaining a copy of the agreement for their records.

If an agreement cannot be reached, either party may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a decision on the matter. The Tribunal will then determine whether it is reasonable to terminate the tenancy or for it to continue at a reduced rate.

You can read the section here: Residential Tenancies Act 1986: