Some types of living arrangements aren’t covered by tenancy law.
The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) protects tenants and landlords in New Zealand. It applies to every residential tenancy (renting a place to live in), except in certain cases. The Act doesn’t cover, for example:
- flatmates (people who live in the property with the tenant, but are not named on the tenancy agreement)
- boarders (people who live with the owner of the house)
- situations where the tenants are family members of the owner/landlord
- student accommodation (exceptions apply – see Section 5B of the Act on the Legislation website)(external link)
- holiday homes
- hotels and motels
- hospitals and rest-homes
- commercial tenancies.
Section 5 of the Residential Tenancies Act explains all the different situations the Act doesn’t apply to.
Section 5 of the Residential Tenancies Act(external link) – Legislation website
If your residential arrangement falls under Section 5, the Tenancy Tribunal will not be able to hear any disputes that may come up (unless the landlord and tenant have agreed that the Act (or parts of it) apply to their arrangement).
If you’re not sure whether your residential arrangement is covered by the Act, you can apply to the Tribunal to have an adjudicator determine if they can hear your dispute.
Minors and the Act
Landlords may not be able to enforce the terms of the tenancy agreement against a minor (person under 18 years old).
The Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 may apply(external link) – Legislation website
If a landlord wants to enforce the tenancy agreement against the minor, they will need to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal. The Tribunal will consider as part of its decision whether the tenancy agreement was fair and reasonable at the time the agreement was entered into.
The Act doesn’t cover flatmates
If a homeowner finds someone to live in their house with them and rents a room to them, that person is a flatmate. Their living arrangement isn’t covered by the Act.
If a few people rent a house together but some of them don’t sign the tenancy agreement, those who don’t sign aren’t tenants. They’re considered flatmates and their living arrangement isn’t covered by the Act.
The Act doesn’t cover holiday homes
The Act doesn’t apply when the house is being rented for the tenant’s holiday purposes. In other words, the tenant actually lives somewhere else and is just staying in the house for a holiday.
Typically, holiday houses are let for short periods. If the homeowner wants to let their home to someone who wants it for a lengthy sabbatical or holiday, they could elect to ‘contract into’ the Residential Tenancies Act to avoid any doubt about whether the Act applies to their arrangement.
The Act doesn’t cover student accommodation
The Act does not apply to certain types of student accommodation, such as halls of residence and student hostels. In these situations the accommodation provider must have house rules. The accommodation provider must make sure the student tenants are aware of, and have access to copies of the house rules.
The New Zealand Qualifications Authority administers the Code of Practice for Domestic Tertiary Students.
Who tenancy law does protect
If a residential tenancy isn’t one of types mentioned above or in section 5 of the Act, then it’s most likely covered by the Act.