The Residential Tenancies Act (the Act) protects tenants and landlords in New Zealand. Not all living arrangements are covered.

The Act applies to all residential tenancies (renting a place to live in), except in some cases. Situations that the Act doesn’t cover include:

  • flatmates (people who live in the property but aren’t on the tenancy agreement)
  • certain kinds of student accommodation
  • holiday homes
  • hotels and motels
  • hospitals and rest-homes
  • commercial tenancies.

If your situation isn’t covered by the Residential Tenancies Act, you can choose to opt in and be covered. To do this, you need to agree with everyone involved that the Act will apply to their living arrangement. This is known as ‘contracting in’ to the Act.

Contracting in to the Act

If everyone wants to ‘contract in’ to the Act they will need to decide whether the whole Act or just certain sections will apply to their living situation.

The agreement must be in writing and clearly describe how everyone is to ‘contract in’ (eg, what sections apply). The written agreement should be signed and dated by everyone involved, and each person should keep a copy. You can use our tenancy agreement template for this.

Tenancy agreement templates
Residential Tenancies Act (external link)  (New Zealand legislation website)


The Residential Tenancies Act applies if you’re renting a place to live in, except in certain cases. The Act protects landlords and tenants, but not flatmates.


Some types of living arrangements aren’t covered by the Act.