Tenancy Act cover?

Question from Cheyenne updated on 7th December 2015:

I was staying in the same dwelling as my landlord. I lived downstairs in a self contained, private, two bedroom unit and she lives upstairs in a self contained three bedroom area. The only common area we shared was the door way. I have lived there for over a year, but now my landlord has evicted me on a spur of the moment decision. Our agreement when I moved in is that I pay amenities only so I pay a share of the bills. She did not want me paying rent to her and have it affect her pension. I have paid rent on several occasions only for her to tell me to stop. This was an oral agreement. Is my landlord able to kick me out without notice? Am I covered by the Tenancies Act?

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

The Residential Tenancies Act covers all residential tenancies except where specifically excluded. A tenancy agreement is a contract and, as such, requires three main factors to be present – the offer and acceptance of a contract, and the exchange of consideration. ‘Consideration’ is usually the rent that is paid by a tenant to a landlord. Where there is no ‘consideration’ paid or exchanged, this can affect the validity of the contract and the coverage of the Act to your circumstances. Similarly, under the Act a verbal agreement can be enforceable even though it is not in writing.

If you have exclusive use of a unit in exchange for rent (something of value) then your agreement may be covered by the Act, in which case the provisions to terminate a tenancy agreement under the Act would apply. If your agreement doesn’t require you to give anything of value in exchange for the use of the unit then your agreement may not be covered by the Act.

Where there is a dispute between parties to a tenancy agreement that is covered by the Act, or where there is uncertainty if the Act applies, an application can be made to the Tenancy Tribunal. The Tenancy Tribunal is a part of the dispute resolution process contained within the Act. A Tenancy Tribunal Adjudicator is able to issue a legally binding decision to resolve any matter brought before it. Such an Order can determine whether the agreement is covered by the Act, compensation for any reasonable costs incurred and exemplary damages if it is deemed that the landlord did not terminate the tenancy in accordance with the Act, and also the responsibility for the amenities (bills) that you paid.

You can find information on terminating a tenancy that is covered under the Act and the Tenancy Tribunal process on the Tenancy Services website at www.tenancy.govt.nz/ or you can call our Tenancy Advice line on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) Monday to Friday between 8am and 5.30pm.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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