your rights and responsibilities

renting, flatting, boarding? know the laws that protect you and your landlord.

If you live on your own, you’ll know there’s a lot to think about. Some days you can’t remember where your keys are – never mind the details of your tenancy!

Knowing your rights and responsibilities is the best way to build a good relationship with your landlord, and to protect yourself in case anything goes wrong.

what are rights and responsibilities?

Your rights are the laws that keep you safe when you’re renting. They’re there to make sure your home is a healthy place to live, and that your landlord treats you well.

Your responsibilities are things you need to do when you’re renting or boarding. They protect your landlord and your home.

know your arrangement

Your rights and responsibilities depend on your living arrangement. There are four main types of living arrangements in Aotearoa New Zealand:

  • Private boarder – someone who rents a room in the home of a friend, relative or homeowner who also lives in the same property.
  • Boarding house tenant – someone who rents a room or sleeping area of a room in a boarding house. Boarding houses have six or more tenants and shared communal areas eg lounge, bathrooms and laundry.
  • Tenant – someone who rents a whole property (like a house or flat) from a landlord.
  • Flatmate – someone who pays their rent to another tenant, rather than the landlord.

Still not sure? You can have a look at the difference between a tenant and a flatmate at Tenancy Services.

tenancy services: flatting

know your rights and responsibilities for private boarders

If you rent a room in the home of a friend or relative, you’re a private boarder.

New Zealand’s tenancy laws don’t apply to private boarders, but you still have some important rights and responsibilities:

  • You need to pay your board on time each week. This usually covers your room, power and meals. If you get youth payment or young parent payment, your board will be paid for you as part of money management.
  • Your landlord may set house rules, and it’s important that you follow them. It’s a good idea to ask your landlord to write the rules down, so that you both know what to expect.
  • You must be safe in your home. It’s never okay for anyone you live with to be violent or abusive. If you are being abused at home, you can get free advice from the domestic abuse charity Shine. If you’re enrolled in Youth Service, talk to your coach about the help you can get.


where to get help for domestic violence

know your rights and responsibilities for boarding house tenants

If you rent a bed or a room in a boarding house with five or more other people, you have some legal rights and responsibilities:

  • You need to pay your rent on time – usually each week.
  • Your landlord is responsible for keeping the shared spaces in your home, like the kitchen and bathroom, clean and in good condition.
  • Your landlord can set house rules, and you need to follow them. Breaking the rules may mean you get evicted.
  • Your landlord usually needs to give you 24 hours notice before they come into your room.
  • You are responsible for keeping your room clean and tidy. This is even more important if you share it with someone else.
  • You must receive a copy of the emergency evacuation procedures.

You can find more information on boarding house tenancies including your rights and responsibilities at Tenancy Services.

tenancy services: starting a boarding house tenancy

know your rights and responsibilities for tenants

If you rent a whole property on your own or with someone else, you have some important rights and responsibilities:

  • You are responsible for paying your rent on time, and for paying bills like electricity, water and gas.
  • Your landlord must maintain your home in a reasonable condition. This means that things like the electricity, water and locks need to work, and the building shouldn’t be damp or mouldy.
  • Your landlord must respect your privacy. Unless there’s an emergency, they can’t enter your home without letting you know first (usually, 24 hours before they want to come in).
  • You need to tell your landlord as soon as anything breaks or goes wrong. If you or any of your guests damage the property, it’s your responsibility to pay to get it fixed.
  • You need to keep your property clean and tidy. It doesn’t have to be spotless, but it must be clean enough that things don’t get damp, damaged or broken.

The Tenancy Services website has a full list of your rights and responsibilities and what to know when you start a tenancy.

tenancy services: your rights and responsibilities

tenancy services: information for new tenants

problems and disputes?

In any house or flat, it’s normal for things to go wrong. But when problems are hard or expensive to sort out, they can sometimes cause issues between tenants and landlords.

If you are a tenant or boarding house tenant and have a problem with your landlord, the best thing to do is to try and sort it out between you. This isn’t always possible, but if it is it’ll save you time, money and stress.

If you and your landlord have an issue you can’t sort out, you can get help from Tenancy Services. Please fill out the online form in the link below and share your concerns.

tenancy services: contact the compliance and investigations team

If you are a flatmate and have a problem with others also living in your flat, it is best to try resolve it between each other. If you cannot come to an agreement, you can make a claim to the Disputes Tribunal.

disputes tribunal: how to make a claim

If you’re under 25 and are unsure of your situation and need help, you can contact Youth Law for free advice.

youth law