About the services

What are the COVID-19 commercial lease dispute services?

These are streamlined arbitration and mediation services to resolve commercial lease disputes arising from COVID-19.

If commercial tenants and landlords of small to medium businesses haven’t been able to agree about rent arrangements during a lockdown period (Alert Levels 3 and 4), these services can be used to try to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties.

The services are subsidised by the Ministry of Justice so that disputes can be settled quickly and cost-efficiently as an alternative to a court process. By helping resolve commercial rent disputes, the services will support more businesses to continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The subsidised services are available for six months from 25 September 2020 to the end of March 2021. Use of the services is voluntary, which means both the landlord and tenant need to agree to take part.

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a private dispute resolution service provided by an independent arbitrator. The arbitrator makes a decision to settle the dispute after considering the arguments of both parties. Arbitration can only be about the terms of the lease or contract and will be decided according to the relevant law. The arbitrator's decision is called an award and is normally binding on the parties.

What is mediation?

Mediation involves an independent mediator working with both parties to resolve the commercial lease dispute, by helping you identify the main issues and come to an agreement. A mediator will not impose a decison on the parties, but any outcomes of the mediation are recorded in a mediation agreement. Mediation can be about any dispute, not only the terms of the lease or contract.

Which service is right for me?

It’s up to you and the other party to decide which service to use.

The subsidised arbitration service can only be used if:

  • your lease includes a clause that allows for a reduction of rent in an emergency


  • both parties agree to arbitrate the dispute using the subsidised service.

Mediation is appropriate if:

  • both parties agree to mediate. You don't need to have a rent abatement clause in your lease to mediate a dispute about rent.

A lawyer or community law centre can provide more advice.

Information about the service is also available in these languages

COVID-19 Commercial Lease Disputes Services (Te Reo) [PDF, 156 KB]

COVID-19 Commercial Lease Disputes Services (Hindi) [PDF, 328 KB]

COVID-19 Commercial Lease Disputes Services (Simplified Chinese) [PDF, 323 KB]

For more information, email arbitration@justice.govt.nz