How do I set up tenancies for individual rooms?

Anita asks:
(updated on Wednesday, June 11th 2008)

We currently live in a 2 storey house, with sea-views, 7 bedroom house and due to school zonal changes, we are moving to rent near better school zoning, to enable kids to have a better/sociable/academic atmosphere for the next 5 years. Due to the size of our house, despite the ads on-line, Herald, local papers we couldn't attract a decent family/company to rent where we are. Hence finally, decided to 'rent individual rooms to flatmate' for a reasonable price per week, and utilities (power/phone/water/broadband) divided amongst all 7. They all got good references and appear a decent crowd. House is to be let fully furnished with my own furniture. We will be living only 4kms away. I am in the process of preparing a 'roaster' for bathroom/kitchen for Rm A -G, and a folder for 'comments, 'Bills' etc etc and put those on an assigned place for them to view, eg: Bathroom/ Kitchen etc. What should my Tenancy Contract for individual Room let look like? Should cover/not cover/added in? Am I covered under Residential Tenancy Act?

Our Experts Answer:

Tenancies for individual rooms can still be covered by the Residential Tenancies Act. In this situation, the room the tenant rents is their “premises” and the rest of the property (apart from rooms which are the premises of other tenants) may be considered common (shared) facilities. You can only hold a tenant responsible for service charges for power, phone and broadband which is supplied to their premises. In this case, the premises would be their room. The landlord must be able to show the usage of each tenant in order to pass these charges on to the tenant. You may want to consider including these charges into the weekly rent instead. Although a landlord may expect the tenants to keep the property (including common facilities) reasonably clean and reasonably tidy, the landlord cannot tell the tenant how to do this (ie by setting a cleaning roster). It is up to the tenants to work out among themselves how they will keep the place reasonably clean and reasonably tidy. Keep in mind that tenants are not responsible for the actions of other tenants (ie, the tenants of the other rooms in the house). You can download Tenancy Agreements from the Department of Building and Housing website ( A landlord and tenant can agree to include any clause in the agreement, as long as it does not waive rights that tenants are entitled to under the Residential Tenancies Act. You can call the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) for advice and information about whether any additional clauses you may wish to add comply with the Residential Tenancies Act or if you have any other questions about your tenancies.

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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