Boarding House Tenancies 

A boarder is someone who rents a room in a private home or boarding house. Laundry, kitchen and bathroom facilities are usually shared and meals are sometimes included.

Some boarding situations are covered by the Residential Tenancy Act. For information about boarding situations not covered by the Act see our Private Board page.

Which boarding situations are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act?

Boarding houses are covered by the Residential Tenancy Act if:

  • they have facilities for joint use by the tenants (e.g. a shared kitchen)
  • they are occupied, or are intended to be occupied, by at least six tenants at once
  • tenancies are intended to last 28 days or more.

Boarding situations that don’t meet the above criteria are not covered by the Act - for more information see our see our Private Board page.

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What rights and obligations do I have as a boarding house tenant under the Residential Tenancies Act?

If you are a tenant in a boarding house covered by the Act:

  • you must be given a written Tenancy Agreement. This must include:
    • whether the tenancy will last more than 28 days
    • one or more telephone numbers for the landlord
    • the boarding room number
    • how many other tenants there will be in the house
    • whether it is a joint tenancy (and if it is, the names of the other tenants) 
    • services to be provided by the landlord that are included in rent (if any)
    • if the premises are to be managed by a person other than the landlord, the name and contact details of that person
    • fire evacuation procedures.
  • the landlord must give you a copy of the house rules, a copy of which must be displayed on the premises at all times. They must also give you seven days' notice to change the house rules.
  • you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have House Rules varied or removed
  • you must not interfere with any lock (except with the landlord's consent)
  • you may terminate a tenancy with 48 hours’ notice
  • you must be given 24 hours' written notice before the landlord can enter your room (e.g. for an inspection) unless
    • you agree otherwise, or 
    • the landlord believes that there is an emergency or a serious risk to life or property.
  • you must return any keys at the end of the tenancy.

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What rights and obligations do I have as a boarding house landlord?

If you are a landlord of a boarding house covered by the Act:

  • you must provide a written tenancy agreement
  • from 1 July 2016:
    • you must include a signed statement in the tenancy agreement, about the location, type and condition of all insulation that has been installed in the premises
    • smoke alarms must be installed to the required standard
  • from 1 July 2019, the building must have insulation installed that meets the standards set out in the latest Building Code.
  • you can ask for up to 4 weeks rent for bond (you need to lodge the bond with Tenancy Services within 23 working days, unless the bond is the equivalent to one week’s rent or less.)
  • you must give 28 days' notice if you wish to increase the rent.
  • you can make house rules:
    • you must give them to tenants when they move in
    • you must display them at the premises
    • you must give seven days' notice if you change them
  • you must ensure the premises are reasonably secure by providing sufficient locks or other security devices.
  • you must ensure tenants have access to their room, toilet and bathroom facilities at all times.
  • you are responsible for ensuring that the common areas are clean and well-maintained.
  • you have the right to enter the common areas at any time.
  • if you intend to alter, add or remove a lock you must tell any tenant who will be affected by this.
  • you can enter the boarding house at any time but must give notice before entering a tenanted room. Generally this is 24 hours written notice, unless you reasonably believe that there is an emergency or that there is a serious risk to life or property.
  • you must provide 28 days notice to end a tenancy (there are some exceptions to this). 

More information is on the Tenancy Services website. 

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Who pays for the power in a boarding house tenancy?

If each room has a separate meter then each tenant will be billed separately for power.

Otherwise power should be included in the rent and the landlord is responsible for paying the power bill.

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How much notice must I give my landlord if I want to leave the boarding house?

You have to give 48 hours’ notice.

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My boarding house tenant is behind in rent and left without paying. Can I keep their property and sell it?

You can’t take your tenant’s belongings without giving them proper notice and reasonable opportunity to retrieve them.

If you have reason to believe that the tenant does not intend to come back, and their rent is in arrears, the boarder’s room can be considered “abandoned”. First you’ll need to give 24 hours’ notice of your intention to inspect the place. If they aren’t there at the time you can just put the notice on the door.

After the end of the notice period, you can enter the room to inspect it to confirm that the tenancy has been abandoned. You can then place another notice, giving 48 hours’ notice on the door. The notice must state the date and time at which the tenancy will be terminated.

You can then apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the tenancy formally terminated, and for rent arrears and damages. You can also request an order for disposal of abandoned goods. If the tenant paid a bond, then you can apply to take a portion of the bond to cover the rent costs.

More information is on the Tenancy Services website.

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How much notice must I give my boarding house tenant if I want them to leave?

For boarding house tenancies covered by the Act, you generally need to give your tenant 28 days’ notice if you want to end the tenancy.

You can end a tenancy with 48 hours’ notice if their rent is overdue and they haven’t complied with a notice to pay it, or if they have been allowing the room to be used for illegal purposes.

You can end the tenancy immediately if they have caused, or threatened to cause, serious damage to property; danger to people; or serious disruption to other residents.