Holiday and short-term rentals: What you need to
If you’re thinking about making your home, rental property or holiday house available
for short-term rentals, make sure you know the rules on holiday rental agreements,
claiming expenses, whether to declare it at tax time, and more.
Key things to consider for holiday rentals
With the rise of online holiday accommodation websites like Airbnb and Bookabach,
listing a property for short-term let is easy. But there’s more to it than just putting your
property out there. Key things to consider include:
creating and enforcing a holiday rental agreement
tax obligations, if any
insurance cover
health and safety and consumer laws
claimable expenses and record-keeping.
Check out your local council rules on short-term accommodation — some councils
require you to register properties which are rented out, eg Queenstown Lakes District
Make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions of any
hosting website you use.
Rental agreements
When a house you own is used as a holiday rental, you’re not covered by the
Residential Tenancies Act. This means standard rental agreements don’t apply.
Some hosting sites, like Airbnb, include booking terms and conditions in your page
listing. If terms and conditions aren’t included when you list your rental, you’ll need to
create and enforce a written agreement outlining your terms and conditions.
The agreement should cover rules and expectations about:
payments, including deposits and refunds
maximum number of guests
camping, eg extra guests can/can’t pitch a tent on the lawn
liability, eg if someone has an accident on your property.
If you use a template provided by your preferred hosting website, make sure it suits
your situation and covers everything you need it to.
Check your preferred hosting site for rental agreement templates
and tips on attracting and vetting guests.
If you’re a landlord
You can’t ask tenants to move out temporarily so you can make more money over the
summer by using the property for Airbnb or similar.
If your tenants decide to sublet the property while they’re away, they need your
permission and must abide by their tenancy agreement. They can’t sublet the property
without your permission.
Subletting (external link) (
— Tenancy Services
Insurance, tax, customer vetting and the Consumer Guarantees
Act are all things to consider when letting to holiday-makers.
Understanding consumer laws (/risks-and-operations/dealing-with-customercomplaints/
Tax obligations
Income you receive for providing accommodation, including through websites like
Airbnb or Bookabach, is taxable. This includes any payment for one-off or irregular
rentals. Exceptions apply, see renting out your holiday home below.
This means you:
must include the income on an Individual tax return (IR3). This can be filed
online — for most people it’s due 7 July
can claim expenses for the time you rented out the space, eg rates, insurance,
cleaning and advertising
must keep clear records to confirm all income and expenses.
GST rules might apply if you offer guests meals, cleaners or other services in addition
to accommodation. If you’re not sure, check with Inland Revenue — or your
accountant, if you have one.
Your tax obligations when renting out a residential home (external link)
html#02) — Inland Revenue
Claiming expenses
You can only claim expenses if you declare your rental income in your tax return.
Remember: expenses you can claim include rates, insurance, cleaning and
You can only claim expenses for the time you rented out the space.
If you’re renting out a room, you can only claim a proportion of your household
Remember to keep clear records to confirm all income and expenses.
Claiming expenses (external link) (
claim-expenses/claiming-expenses.html) — Inland Revenue
Holiday homes you rent out and use yourself
There are different tax rules if you have a mixed-use holiday home where:
you stay in the holiday home yourself sometimes
you rent it out to others sometimes
it’s not used for a total of 62 days or more during the tax year — or the same
proportion if you buy or sell it partway through a tax year, eg a total of 31 days if
you sell six months into a tax year.
If you have a mixed-use holiday home and you earn less than $4,000 a year from
renting it out, you don’t need to include this income in your annual tax return. If you
choose not to declare this rental income, you won’t be able to claim expenses for the
holiday home either.
Tax rules for mixed-use assets (external link) (
expenses/holiday-homes/) — Inland Revenue
GST for mixed-use assets (external link) (
change-adjust/mixed-use/) — Inland Revenue
Keeping tax records (/tax-and-accounting/tax-time-tips/keeping-tax-records/)
Your usual house and contents insurance might not cover you if something happens
while your property is rented out. Speak to your insurer — you may need to pay a
higher premium or arrange extra cover, but this is better than finding out too late that
damage isn’t covered.
Talk to your insurer about cover for:
theft or damage by short-term holiday tenants
cover during times the property is empty
loss of income — if something major happens and you are unable to rent the
property out.
As well as cover for the property and contents, consider public liability insurance. This
is cover to protect you if a guest gets hurt while staying at your property.
Some hosting websites offer free cover for these types of things, but it’s worth a chat
with your insurance company either way.
Insurance (/risks-and-operations/planning-for-the-unexpected-bcp/insurance/)
Health and safety
Check whether there are any regulations you need to comply with — your local
council is a good place to start.
Examples include:
Fit smoke detectors throughout the property and check these are in working
order every three months.
Any deck more than 1m high has a fence of at least 1m high right around it.
Any pool deeper than 400mm is fenced.
Hazardous items like chemicals and poisons are properly stored and kept out of
Any kayaks or boats provided for use are seaworthy and life jackets are
A holiday home-owner’s guide to health and safety (external link)
and-safety) — Bookabach

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