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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!

but 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 agreement

Your rights and responsibilities depend on your tenancy agreement. There are four main types of renter in New Zealand:

  • Private boarder- someone who rents a room in the home of a friend, relative or someone else.
  • Boarder- someone who rents a room in a boarding house.
  • 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? Find out more about the different kinds of tenancy at Tenancy Services.

Tenancy Services: types of tenancy

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 OK for anyone you live with to be violent or abusive to you. 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

rights and responsibilities for boarders

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 board 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 a 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 can see a full list of your rights and responsibilities as a boarder at Tenancy Services.

Tenancy Services: your rights and responsibilities as a boarder

rights and responsibilities for tenants and flatmates

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 keep 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 when you move in.
  • 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.

Tenancy services: your rights and responsibilities as a tenant

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 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’re under 25 and you think your landlord is doing something wrong or illegal, you can contact Youth Law for free advice.

Youth Law

If you and your landlord have an issue you can’t sort out, you can get help from a tenancy tribunal. This is a type of court that will hear both sides of the story and make a decision that you and the landlord will have to follow by law.

A tenancy tribunal costs around $20. You can find out how to apply for one at the Tenancy Services website.

Tenancy Services: tenancy tribunal