Does RTA cover cabins?

Question from Peter updated on 1st January 1970:

There are quite a few companies that hire cabins (just an extra room for a bed and totally separate from the actual house) for properties. Do these cabins fall under the Residential Tenancy Act? If I was to hire a cabin and the person renting this fails to pay or does damage would I have to issue 14-day notices to rectify this and to go to the Tenancy Tribunal to gain possession? Some of the cabins available are mobile (on wheels like a caravan) and some sit on the ground. Does this make a difference? Does the Act only cover actual accommodation that is fully self-contained? Are caravan rentals a grey area? Thanks.

Our expert responded:

Generally speaking, section 5 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 states that the Act will not apply if a tenant is in a cabin located in a camping ground, and is intended for habitation not exceeding 50 days in any continuous term of occupancy. If the cabins are being used as a place of residence (residential premises means any premises used or intended for occupation by any person as a place of residence) and are not for short term holiday use, then they would be covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1986.

The definition of tenancy in the Act specifically refers to residential premises. The definition of ‘premises’ is quite wide and would appear to cover cabins and caravans whether mobile or immobile. A key criteria will be whether the structure can be said to be a means of shelter and intended for occupation per the definitions. Generally speaking, if the structure is captured by  definitions and the tenant fails to pay rent, then a remedy is to issue a  ‘14 day notice to rectify’ that breach  under section 56 of the Act. The exact type of premises being used as a place of residence (like a house, cabin or caravan) is not relevant to the rights and obligations and termination provisions in the Act (except in the case of boarding houses).

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