Lease agreements and application process

Access the application forms and standard agreements required for certain third-party arrangements. Find out what types of lease or licence agreements need Ministry approval before moving forward.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Proprietors
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Property Managers
  • Third Parties
  • Local Council

Boards must use a Ministry-approved agreement between their schools and third-parties when leasing or hiring school land and buildings. Ministry approval is required in most instances.  


We provide schools with a range of agreements depending on the leasing or hiring situation. Only a Ministry-approved agreement can be used. A board has the right to agree to a request to lease or hire out any school property. There is no automatic right for third parties to occupy schools.

A school can be leased or hired out for a variety of reasons such as:

  • community groups hiring the school hall 
  • groups wanting to use school property for after-school care or weekend sports 
  • early childhood education centres leasing an empty classroom
  • a swim school leasing the school pool
  • the school being used as a polling booth on election day.

Dealing with proposals

Proposals must be approved by the Ministry.

Third parties should not start any arrangements, like getting plans drawn for a building, until a proposal has been approved by the Ministry.

Before agreeing to any proposal, the board needs to consider:

  • whether the proposal is in the public interest, has an educational or community benefit, and brings no disadvantage to the school
  • risks to the school (costs or problems from having non-Ministry people on school property)
  • insurances (property may not be covered if leased out)
  • the future of the school (teaching spaces or land may be needed for roll growth)
  • whether you'll be committing future boards to long-term agreements that may put extra pressure on school resources
  • extra costs to the school, such as electricity and maintenance (these will usually be passed onto the hirer)
  • whether your school community will consider it an acceptable use
  • whether third party staff or employers need to be vetted by the police
  • if the benefits to your school will outweigh inconveniences
  • special rules around sleepovers in schools.

Agreement types

Examples of common situations and appropriate agreements

Hirer Situation Casual Use Agreement Other Agreement Types (License to Occupy or Lease to be prepared by the Ministry)
Hall, library and sports facilities hire (including school pool) One-off or once or twice a week (same user, for approximately 5 hours in total)  
Greater than above →  
Before & After School care No more than 2 days (approximately 5 hours per week)  
Greater than above →  
School Holiday Programmes No more than 2 days (approximately 5 hours per week)  
Greater than above →  
Playgroups One or two sessions (approximately 8 hours per week)  
Greater than above →  
Night Classes  Once or twice a week for approximately 4 hours in total  
Greater than above →  
Sleepovers All sleepovers at a school (see also separate website commentary)  
Early Learning Service     (usually a Lease)
Emergency Relief Centre Training sessions and storage of equipment (not actual emergency situations)  

Casual Use Agreement

Casual Use Agreements are for occasional use. For example, the local rugby club uses the school field once a week for practice, someone wants to hire your hall for an event, (see table below for more examples).

If the situation requires only a Casual Use Agreement, Ministry approval is not required. The arrangement can be managed by the board, using the Casual Use Agreement letter.

Casual Use Agreement letter [DOCX, 33 KB](external link)

When entering into a Casual Use Agreement, boards need to ensure they have clearly identified any costs and expenses to be met by the hirer.

Other agreement types

Arrangements that do not meet the criteria for casual use may be covered by a licence to occupy or a lease.

To submit an application, boards will need to:

  • complete an Approval in Principle form
  • include a copy of the board's resolution or board minutes approving the application
  • include a site plan showing what areas of the school the Third Party will occupy e.g. any appropriate land and / or buildings.

Approval in Principle form [PDF, 139 KB]

Submit all the requirements to your Ministry Property Advisor.


Ministry considerations

Before approving an application, the Ministry will consider:

  • if your school needs the land and buildings during the term of the agreement
  • if your school needs the property at all (if you are considering a long-term lease it may be better to dispose of the property. (see: Surplus school property)
  • benefits to your school and school community, including any educational benefits (there does not have to be an educational benefit, but if the agreement will disadvantage the school, it will not be approved)
  • day-to-day operation (e.g. administrative support to run a community facility) 
  • health and safety issues
  • ownership (we will not approve Ministry-owned land or buildings being transferred to a third party)
  • if you can afford to commit some of your own funding, if this is proposed (e.g. sharing the costs of building a sports facility with your council will need separate approval, see: Board funding for property projects)
  • if the agreement would commit the Ministry to pay for buildings and facilities we would not otherwise provide
  • if the agreement is in the public interest and will not affect the welfare of the general public (if this is a concern, you should consider consulting with your community before applying for consent from the Ministry)
  • that the board has approved the occupation (supplied board minutes or letter approving occupancy).

Council approvals

For some situations your local council will need to grant a resource consent or a specific licence (in addition to Ministry consent) for the proposed activity (e.g. a vegetable market). It is your responsibility to ensure that all council requirements are met.

Approval for specific situations

There are some situations that have specific approval processes and agreements. 

Situation Approval process

School buildings used for government-funded programmes

  • If your school has surplus property, you can seek our approval to use it for a 'legitimate use'.
  • This is where you agree to a building being used for programmes funded by the Ministry, other schools or government agencies.
  • See: Legitimate use of surplus school property

Early Childhood Education centre agreements

  • You can agree to an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Service setting up at your school.
  • You'll need our consent and we'll provide a standard lease agreement covering the ECE service’s use of your land or buildings.
  • See: Legitimate use of surplus school property

Internet access agreements

Dental clinic agreements

Leasing schools that have been closed

  • When a school has been closed and is waiting to be sold, the Ministry may consider on a case by case basis, a short-term lease. 
  • If you wish to lease property at a closed school, contact your nearest Ministry office.
  • If you lease a closed school site, you must pay all the upkeep, including insurance. You'll likely need to vacate the site when it is sold. This will be written into the agreement.

Solar panels in schools

The Ministry does not have a preferred solar panel provider and is not running a solar panel installation programme.

  • If you choose to install solar panels that will be owned by a third party, you and the third party will need to enter into an energy services agreement (ESA).
  • The third party will need to have their own ESA approved by the Ministry as consistent with the Ministry’s minimum requirements.

Contact your school's Property Advisor about the Ministry's minimum requirements for ESAs.

Part of the Ministry’s review process will include an external review of the design. The third party must reimburse the Ministry for the cost of this review before consent will be granted. This will usually be in the order of $1,500 +GST.

The school will need to send the following documents to their Ministry Property Advisor:

  • an Approval in Principle form, completed by your board
  • an approved energy services agreement, prepared by the third party
  • the design plan for the entire installation from the provider
  • information required to complete Building envelope assessment (see below)
  • a copy of the board minutes or a letter confirming the board’s support of the proposed arrangement.


School swimming pool lease agreements

Sign the agreement

If we approve the proposal in principle, we'll send you the appropriate agreement ready to be signed. Once the board and the third party have signed the agreement then it must be returned to the Ministry for final consent. After the agreement has been consented, a fully signed copy will be returned to you. 

Renew an agreement

There are two ways to renew a lease or licence dependent on how the current one expires:

No remaining rights of renewal 

If a lease or licence expires and does not have any remaining rights of renewal, a new application will be required by completing the Approval in Principle form and following the section above labelled 'Other agreement types'.

With remaining rights of renewal

If the lease or licence agreement has a remaining right of renewal, then the following is to be submitted to your Ministry property advisor:

  • A letter from the third party to the Board outlining their request to action a remaining right of renewal under the appropriate clause in their lease / licence; and
  • A return letter from the Board to the third party granting approval for the renewal and the effective dates e.g. from renewal date to new expiry date. Note these dates must align with the current lease / licence.

Your property advisor will submit these documents to the Ownership and Occupancy team who will update the Ministry’s records to reflect the new expiry date.

If you have any situations that are unclear, please contact your property advisor. 

Property staff contact details

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback