What is the definition of a short term tenancy?

Question from porcer updated on 4th July 2007:

With periodic tenancies, is there a cut-off point for when a short-term tenancy becomes medium/long term? The Department of Building and Housing says it is a legal requirement to have a residential tenancy agreement but it does not seem practical for a very short term, i.e. if I let my flat for say two to three nights weekly, for up to six months at a time or more. And when do utilities bills become the responsibility of the tenant?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 sets out the rights and responsibilities for landlords and tenants in residential renting situations within New Zealand. The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 provides for two types of basic tenancy agreements, ‘fixed term’ – where there is a set date or period of time that the property will be rented for and ‘periodic’ – where the tenancy continues until either party gives notice to end the agreement (time frames for these notices are set out under Section 51).

Whilst there is no ‘cut off point’ as to when a tenancy becomes short or medium term, section 5 of the Residential Tenancies Act lists a number of situations that are exempt from this law such as where the tenancy arrangement is more of a boarding situation as the landlord continues to live in the property or if the arrangement is for the tenants holiday purposes or is some sort of boarding or lodging house intended for the provision of temporary or transient accommodation.

Utilities are described as being ‘outgoings’ under Section 39(2) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 and essentially allow a landlord to pass on the following charges to the tenant – a) all charges for electricity or gas supplied to the premises; b) water charges in respect of the premises under certain conditions; and (c) all charges in respect of any telephone connected to the premises. This is on the basis that it is only the tenant who has access to these services. For example, if there was a shared electricity meter and no way of telling how much the tenant is using on their own then a landlord may not be able to pass those charges on.

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




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