Boarding houses & the RTA

Kath asks:
(updated on Tuesday, June 07th 2016)

I just wondered if there is any likelihood that in the future the RTA will be changed to suit the changing environment?

I'm forced to use a boarding house agreement - because I have a six bedroom house that I rent out per room because no one can afford to take the entire lease and it seems I get punished for that?

Why are tenants being adults not able to exercise their right as human beings to have a tenancy set up to suit them? Is there no flexibility for anyone here? I want to offer both fixed term and periodic leases, but I can not do either with a boarding house lease.

It is so frustrating that the law is so antiquated as tenants always have the right to take a property or not take a property as they are given a choice.

With a huge mortgage, a bank will not loan to a landlords when tenants have no tenancy agreements in place, or one that allows them to only give two days notice.

Frustrated Landlord

Our Experts Answer:

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill has just passed its third reading in Parliament and will now become law.

It proposes specific amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act, including new requirements for smoke alarms and insulation in residential rental properties, as well as streamlining the Act's current procedures on abandonment. More about the proposed changes are available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website at

However, we have forwarded your views on reviewing the RTA to the relevant policy team within MBIE for their consideration should a decision be made to review the Act. You may also discuss your concerns with your local MP.

Currently under the Act, a boarding house and a boarding house tenancy are clearly defined. However, if there is any question as to whether an accommodation arrangement is considered to be a boarding house tenancy or not, either the landlord or tenant may make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order determining whether the boarding house provisions apply to those particular circumstances.

In such cases, the Tribunal may also take into consideration the intention of both the landlord and tenant when they entered into the tenancy agreement, the nature of the arrangement, and the agreement itself. Similarly, all parties should be fully aware of the nature of the tenancy they are entering into.

A boarding house tenancy that is intended to, or that does in fact, last for 28 days’ or more cannot be for a fixed-term period, and can be ended by either the landlord or tenant at any time by giving the appropriate notice as prescribed under part 2A of the Act. In the case of a landlord giving notice, the standard written notice period required is a minimum of 28 days’.

For further information regarding landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities, you can visit our website at, or subscribe to our tenancy landlord e-newsletter at

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