Learn about the requirements for maintenance and inspections at a boarding house, including information about locks and security, the rules for entering a tenant’s room and what to do if there’s a problem.

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Maintenance and inspections

Maintenance

The maintenance requirements for boarding houses are the same as standard tenancies.

Landlords must make sure the boarding house is in a reasonable state of repair. This means making sure they’re safe and healthy to live in. Landlords should also ensure the facilities, for example the kitchen and bathroom, are in a reasonable state of cleanliness. If a landlord does not do this then they could be liable for a financial penalty.

Tenants in a boarding house are responsible for keeping their room reasonably clean and tidy.

Find out more about property maintenance.

If something gets damaged in the boarding house, or needs repairing, the tenants must tell the landlord as soon as possible.

Find out more about repairs and damages.

Inspections

If you’re a landlord, it’s a good idea to regularly inspect your boarding house. Inspections help you check everything’s working well, there’s no damage, and your tenants are keeping things reasonably clean and tidy.

  • Landlords must give at least 24 hours’ notice to inspect the room.
  • The maximum frequency for room inspections is once every 4 weeks.
  • Inspections must happen between 8am and 6pm for boarding houses, unless the tenant and landlord have agreed on a time outside of these hours.
  • The landlord can reinspect the room if the tenant has agreed with the landlord that they will fix or clean something by a certain date. The landlord must still give the correct amount of notice (24 hours’).
  • The landlord can enter the boarding house (not individual rooms) at any time. However, the landlord, or any other tenants, can’t interfere with a tenant's quiet enjoyment of the premises.

What is quiet enjoyment?

Other reasons for entering a tenant’s room

Other than for inspections, a boarding house landlord may enter a boarding house room after giving at least 24 hours’ notice to:

  • inspect the room, if the landlord believes the tenant has abandoned the room or breached the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) in another way
  • show the room to a possible tenant or buyer
  • fulfil their obligations under the Act
  • inspect work the landlord required the tenant to carry out, or work the tenant agreed to carry out
  • show the room to a registered valuer, real estate agent, or building inspector, prospective buyer or lender, or prospective tenant.

A boarding house landlord may enter a boarding house room without notice:

  • if a tenant of the room agrees at, or immediately before, the time of entry
  • if the landlord believes there’s a serious risk to life or property and their entry is necessary to reduce or remove the risk
  • to provide any agreed services, as long as entry meets the conditions of the agreement or house rules
  • in accordance with an order from the Tenancy Tribunal.

Locks and security

  • The house and all rooms must be reasonably secure.
  • The landlord must provide enough locks to ensure this.
  • Tenants must have access to their room, and toilet and bathroom facilities, at all times.
  • Before changing any lock, the landlord must tell every tenant who will be affected.
  • Tenants must not alter, add to or remove any lock or similar security device.

Smoke alarms

Working smoke alarms or detectors are compulsory in all rental homes. New smoke alarms must be photoelectric and have a long battery life, or be hard-wired.

Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act for smoke alarms (transcript)

From the 1st of July 2016 changes to the Residential Tenancies Act came into effect.

These changes are aimed at making New Zealand homes warmer, drier and safer for all.

Working smoke alarms are now compulsory in all rental homes.

They are required to be installed according to manufacturer instructions and within 3 metres of each bedroom door or in every room where a person sleeps.

In multi-storey or multi-level homes, smoke alarms are required on each level or storey.

All caravans and self-contained sleep outs must have working smoke alarms too.

Any alarms installed must be long life photoelectric alarms that meet the required international standard; the long life batteries are designed to last at least 8 years.

They can be purchased from any hardware store.

Failure to comply with these changes is an unlawful act and could result in a financial penalty of up to $4,000. So make sure you meet the requirements.

For more information on making New Zealand warmer, drier, and safer, head to tenany.govt.nz

Smoke alarms must be installed:

  • within 3 metres of each bedroom door, or in every room where a person sleeps
  • on each level or story of a multi-storey or multi-level home
  • in all rental homes, boarding houses, rental caravans, and self-contained sleep-outs.

Landlords must make sure smoke alarms are working at the start of each new tenancy and that they remain in working order during the tenancy.

Tenants cannot damage, remove or disconnect a smoke alarm. They must replace dead batteries (if they are the older style alarms with replaceable batteries), and if there are any problems with the smoke alarms they must tell the landlord as soon as possible.

Find out more about smoke alarm requirements

What to do if there are problems

A breach is when someone (a tenant or a landlord) doesn’t follow the rules of the Residential Tenancies Act.

When a tenant or landlord breaches the Residential Tenancies Act, it’s important to understand what you can do to put it right.

If you’ve got a dispute with your landlord or tenant, try and resolve it between yourselves. We call this self-resolution, and have tips on how to do this.

Self-resolution

If there is an agreement about how to fix the problem, make sure it is in writing and signed by the tenant(s) and the landlord.

Sometimes you won’t be able to reach an agreement on how to sort out the problem. In this case you may consider serving a ‘notice to remedy’. This notice tells the other person what they’ve done to breach the agreement, what they need to do to fix it and how long they have to fix it. If it isn’t fixed in that timeframe you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter sorted out. This may be a mediation or a court hearing.

Find out more about breaches and the notice to remedy.

Find out more about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal.

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