Leasing or hiring school land and buildings

Find out how to lease your school land or buildings.


When people and organisations use parts of the school, it’s called third party occupancy.

A board can agree to a request to lease or hire out any school property. There's no automatic right for third parties to occupy schools, so they should not start any arrangements, like getting plans drawn for a building, until a proposal has been approved by the Ministry. 

We provide different standard agreements depending on the situation. Only a Ministry standard agreement can be used. 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 the playground for after-school care use or weekend sports
  • play groups leasing an empty classroom
  • a community gym built by a local council on land leased from a school
  • a swim school leasing the school pool
  • the school being used as a polling booth on election day.

Deal with a proposal

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

  • risks to the school (costs or problems from having people on school property)
  • insurances (property may not be covered if leased out)
  • the future of the school (classrooms may be needed for roll growth)
  • whether you'll be committing future boards to long-term agreements day-to-day operations, such as extra pressure on services
  • 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.

Fire safety for school sleepovers

Examples of common situations and appropriate agreements

HirerSituationCasual Use AgreementOther 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 Childhood Centre     (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, or your school will be used as a polling centre on Election day. (See table above.)

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

Casual Use Agreement Letter [DOCX, 33 KB]

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.

If you have any situations that are unclear, please contact your Property Advisor.

Other agreement types

If the proposal doesn't meet the criteria for a Casual Use Agreement then the Ministry must consent to each situation, and an agreement must be signed prior to occupancy.

The board must firstly record its own approval in meeting minutes or within a letter before seeking Ministry consent.

To help the Ministry consent to the agreement, the board must fill out the Approval in Principle form and send it to your Property Advisor along with a copy of the board minutes/letter.

Approval in Principle form [PDF, 262 KB] 

If you have any questions, email EIS.WebServices@education.govt.nz or contact your Property Advisor for assistance.

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’re considering a long-term lease it may be better to dispose of the property. See Surplus school property below)
  • benefits to your school and school community, including any educational benefits (there doesn’t have to be an educational benefit but if the agreement will disadvantage the school it won't be approved)
  • day-to-day operation (for example, administrative support to run a community facility) 
  • health and safety issues 
  • ownership (we won’t 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 (for example, sharing the costs of building a sports facility with your council will need separate approval, see Board funding for property projects below)
  • if the agreement would commit the Ministry to pay for buildings and facilities we wouldn’t otherwise provide
  • if the agreement is in the public interest and won’t 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).

Surplus school property

Board funding for property projects

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 (for example, a vegetable market). It's your responsibility to ensure that all council requirements are met.

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. 

Get approval for specific situations

There are some situations that have specific approval processes and agreements. We'll send you the one that suits.

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.

Legitimate use of surplus school property

Early Childhood Education centre agreements

Legitimate use of surplus school property

Internet access agreements

The internet service provider (ISP) must fill out the schedule below.

Information required with application form [DOC, 39 KB]

Dental clinic agreements

There are several different types of dental clinics. The link below provides an overview.

Dental clinics on school sites

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

A school may choose to install solar panels that will be owned by a third party. When this happens, the school and third party will need to enter into an energy services agreement.

Ministry requirements

As the solar panels will be installed at a school, the Ministry has certain minimum requirements that must be included in the energy services agreement. You can contact your school’s Property Advisor for further information about these requirements.

Documenting the arrangement

The third party will need to prepare their own energy services agreement and ensure it is consistent with the Ministry’s minimum requirements.

Process for approval

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

  • An Approval in Principle form, completed by your Board of Trustees
  • An energy services agreement, prepared by the third party, and
  • A copy of the Board minutes or a letter confirming the Board’s support of the proposed arrangement.

Assessing a proposal

The Ministry will check the contract to ensure consistency with the minimum requirements. The Ministry will confirm in writing to the Board that the minimum standards have been met, at which time the Board and the third party may sign the contract.

Renew an agreement

To renew an agreement, submit the following to your local Ministry office.

  • A completed Approval in Principle form (remember to tick 'renewal). Refer to the download link above.
  • Board minutes (or letter approving occupancy).

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