Multi-let apartment

Cooper asks:
(updated on Tuesday, April 24th 2012)

I have an apartment in Wanaka and rent it to couples over the winter. We have three double bedrooms available for separate rental. I was told by an agent in Wanaka that if I rent separate bedrooms in a shared apartment then I'm required by law to have locks on each bedroom door. I've never heard of this in 20 years of renting. What is the statute on this issue?

Our Experts Answer:

You haven't specified whether you are also living in the apartment or whether you rent the apartment room-by-room to separate couples who don't necessarily know eack other. I shall assume the latter (which takes you into the realm of tenancy rather than boarders and house guests). Tenancy carries with it the right to exclude others from the tenanted area. If a tenant has that right it follows that they must be able to exercise it. This implies that they must have a lockable door so that they can exclude others. Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act took effect in October 2010 including new provisions to cater for boarding house tenancies. A boarding house is defined as a residential premises with individual rooms and communal facilities, intended to be occupied by six or more tenants at one time. If you rent out to three couples then your apartment may well fall within that definition. Section 66I lists that the obligations of a boarding house landlord include "ensure that there are sufficient locks or similar devices to ensure that the premises are reasonably secure" (this means the individual room. Therefore, if you are renting rooms separately to six or more people who don't know all each other then you probably have to make the bedroom door lockable in addition to the normal security on external doors.

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