Bad flatmate needs to go

Olivia asks:
(updated on Monday, September 24th 2012)

I own my property and am living in it with two flatmates. I want to ask one flatmate to leave but I'm not sure where I stand. There is no signed agreement and a time period was never discussed. The reason for asking her to leave is her animals. The animals (a cat and a dog) just make a mess - there is animal hair everywhere, the cat is always vomiting on the new carpet or new lounge suite (stains and the smell), the dog scratches up the grass, and gets into anything it can. She doesn't pick up the dog droppings either! I am yet to discuss this with her as want to know my options and how I should go about this?

Our Experts Answer:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) generally applies to all residential tenancies. However, certain situations are excluded from the Act, such as where the premises are used principally as a place of residence by the landlord or the owner of the premises (e.g. where the owner lives in the property with the tenant). Where a situation is excluded from the Act, the parties can agree that the Act (or certain parts of the Act) will apply to their agreement, and any such agreement should be clearly recorded on the tenancy agreement. Where the landlord and tenant(s) agree that the Act (or parts of the Act) will apply, the landlord and tenant(s) are required to ensure they meet their obligations under the Act which includes such things as, for example, notice requirements to terminate a tenancy, tenant responsibilities in respect of the condition of the property, and damage the tenant is responsible for. If your situation is not covered under the Act, it is recommended that you discuss your concerns with your flatmates in the first instance to see if an agreement regarding ending your arrangement can be reached. If you cannot reach an agreement, you may wish to seek independent legal advice from a lawyer or your local community law centre regarding your concerns with your flatmates, and your options for resolution. To discuss your situation further, or for information regarding tenancies that are covered by the Act, you can visit the Department’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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