An application before the Tenancy Tribunal could set a precedent for other Christchurch rental properties damaged in February's earthquake.
The tribunal is being asked to determine if a property is uninhabitable.
The Department of Building and Housing has received about 3000 calls from landlords and tenants since the quake on 22 February asking about their rights and obligations.
Deputy chief executive Maria Robertson says that while a house may still be structurally sound, things like silt or ruptured sewage pipes make it impossible to live in.
While every application to the tribunal is different, she says this particular case is likely to set the standard for others.
Ms Robertson says the tribunal's decision will be the first of its kind under the national state of emergency.