Lease agreements and application process

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

Level of compliance Main audience Other


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


With the consent of the Secretary for Education, boards are empowered to permit other organisations to use school property under sections 162 and 163 of the Education and Training Act 2020.

We provide schools with a range of agreements depending on the leasing or hiring situation. Only a Ministry-approved agreement can be used. There is no automatic right for third parties to occupy schools.

Schools can be leased or hired out for a number of reasons, including:

  • community group use of 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.

Eligibility for a third party to use school property

The Education and Training Act 2020 sets out eligibility criteria for third parties to use school property. As part of considering whether to progress an application, boards must assess whether the proposal meets the following criteria:

  1. The land, building, or facilities are not need or used for the purposes of the school during the time covered by the lease or licence; and
  2. The lease or license is in the public interest; and
  3. The lease or licence either:
    1. is for a purpose associated with educational outcomes and is to bring educational benefit to the school or its community, or to any other school; or
    2. is for a community purpose and has no educational disadvantage for the school.

The application needs to be assessed based on the educational benefit or community purpose not on on the receipt of money.

Boards need to consider risks, length of occupancy and rent

No third party is entitled to use school property, no third party is entitled to a minimum term, and the rent can be negotiated.

Risks to consider

If the board has decided that the eligibility criteria have been met, they can consider whether they want to have the proposed occupant operating at the school.

Some things for boards to consider are:

  • risks to the school (costs or problems from having non-Ministry people on school property)
  • 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 which won't be pad for by the third party
  • 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.

Fire safety advice

Length of occupancy

We recommend that boards approve terms of no longer than 5 years. This is because:

  • Boards have a five-year term and long-term decisions you make may be a burden to future boards.
  • Relationships change over time, and shorter terms provide flexibility to review whether arrangement still work for the school.

The maximum occupancy term that we can offer is 35 years. This is usually only appropriate for early learning centres who will be bringing their own building to the site (i.e. leases for land only), or occupants that are making a large initial investment.

The board will be making a legal commitment to permit the occupant to use school property for the full term of the agreement. Ministry agreements include clauses which permit early termination of the agreement, but these should be used very infrequently and with extreme caution.

Setting the rent

The rent for the occupancy should be negotiated between the parties. This is often as essential part of the proposal.

Boards can negotiate rent with the third party directly. For long term agreements, you may like to consider a mechanism for adjusting the rent over time to accomodate inflation.

For other education sector users, there are often pre-agreed costs. Where applicable, these are noted in the application form for each type of use.

Agreement types

Type 1: Other education sector users

If the third party is another school (e.g. LSC, RTLB, RTLit, Sensory School or Health School) the Host/Accommodating board must complete the following application form and supply it to their Property Advisor.

  1. LSC (Learning Support Coordinator): Accommodation for learning support coordinators.
  2. RTLB (Resource Teachers Learning and Behaviour), or RTLit (Resource Teacher Literacy): POD Variation – RTLB. [PDF, 83 KB]
  3. SSRC (Satellite Units, Sensory Resource Centres), or Health School: POD Variation – SSRC. [PDF, 84 KB]

Type 2: Casual Users - Approval under section 163 of the Education and Training Act 2020

Under section 163 of the Education and Training Act 2020, the Secretary for Education has published a notice identifying the kinds of occupancies that Boards may arrange without specific approval. All of the following criteria must be met:

  Criteria More information/Examples
1 The proposal must meet the eligibility criteria set out above at “Eligibility for a third party to use school property”; and

These criteria are also set out at section 162 (2) of the Education Act 2020(external link).

The proposed use:

  • brings an educational benefit; or serves a community purpose
  • has no educational disadvantage for the school.
2 The occupant must be an eligible occupant; and

The type of occupant or occupancy is eligible if:

a. The occupant is a licenced Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) provider under Social Security (Childcare Assistance) Regulations 2004, providing before and/or after school care, and/or holiday programmes; or 

b. The term is 6 weeks or less, and the hours of use will be less than 36 hours per week (For example: music festivals, construction of easements or connecting into water services); or

c. The term is 7 weeks or more, and the hours of use will be less than 15 hours per week (For example: after school tuition clubs (music, sports, arts), weekend use by sports clubs, churches, markets, coffee carts, playgroups); or

d. The agreement is for the purpose of storing equipment. (For example: Civil Defence cabinets, local authority emergency water tanks, temporary storage of building materials for a neighbour).

3 The occupant will have non-exclusive use of the property; and

Non-exclusive use means that the space will be shared with the school or other users.

For example: the karate club will use the school hall on Tuesday evenings, and the school will use it the rest of the time.

4 The occupant will not be responsible for any maintenance or upgrade of property; and
  • The school will still have primary use of the space. This means that anything that the occupant installs will become the property of the school.  

  • The board may charge a rent which will cover any costs to the property and does not expect the occupant to contribute to building operation or maintenance costs otherwise.
5 The occupant is satisfied using the Casual Use Agreement without any variations other than to weekly rental amount (by negotiation).

The Casual Use Agreement has been prepared to be very low-risk to boards. It gives boards a high level of control over the occupancy so that boards can react quickly if things change.

The Casual Use Agreement is a locked document which only has editable fields for party names, rent amounts, hours of use and term. If any party wants changes made to the document, they must apply through the usual third-party occupancy process and have a lease/ licence prepared under s162 of the Education Act.

If all these criteria are met, the board can download the casual use agreement and edit the Schedule to reflect the specific details of the agreement.

Casual use agreement form [PDF, 452 KB]

Type 3: All other users - Approval under section 162 of the Education and Training Act 2020

For all proposed occupancies that do not meet all the criteria set out in Types 1 or 2, the board must complete the following application form and supply it to their Property Advisor together with a site plan outlining the proposed occupancy area.

Third-party occupancy application form [PDF, 284 KB]

Some types of proposed occupancy require more information to support the third-party occupancy application form.

Internet access agreements

The Internet Service Provider (ISP) must fill out this schedule(external link).

Solar panels on schools

Solar panels that are not owned by the board or the Ministry. These require complex legal documentation and must be negotiated between us and the solar panel provider's legal representatives. The proposal should include the contact information for the solar panel providers legal representatives, and a first draft of a provider-specific Energy Services Agreement (ESA).

We do not have a preferred solar panel provider and is not running a solar panel installation programme.

More information about solar panels is available.

Solar panels

School swimming pool lease agreements

The board needs to supply the supplementary information request in the following form:

Additional information required for swimming pool leases [DOCX, 25 KB]

Te Whatu Ora (Oral Health) lease agreements

More information is needed to support an Oral Health lease. You can download and complete the Schedule C below:

Dental clinics at school

Process for approval

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

If we approve the proposal in principle, we'll send you the appropriate agreement ready to be signed. Any proposed changes must be agreed between the board and the proposed occupant, and the Ministry.

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 agreement must be prepared and entered into. Follow the instructions above for the relevant type of occupancy arrangement.

With remaining rights of renewal

If the third party is exercising a right of renewal, the board must submit the following letters/ emails to the school property advisor:

  • The third party should provide written notice to the school board requesting to action a remaining right of renewal under the appropriate clause in their lease/licence.
  • A return letter from the board to the third party advising that the right is being exercised outlining the effective dates.
    • For example: from renewal date to expiry date. (Note, these dates must align with the current lease/licence).

The board is obliged under the lease or licence to agree to the exercise of any right of renewal in the agreement.

The Ownership and Occupancy team will update our records to reflect the new expiry date.

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

What to do when a lease or licence ends

When the lease or licence ends, you need to let your Property Advisor know. For example:

  • The agreed term has ended, or
  • The tenant has moved out, or
  • The tenant no longer exists.

The lease or licence does not automatically end when the tenant moves out. The final documentation steps must be completed to ensure that the end of the tenancy is clear.

If either party wants to terminate the lease or licence prior to the final expiry, follow the early termination process as set out under the agreement. Contracts are binding commitments and boards should only terminate leases or licences early as a final measure.

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