Are you tenant or flatmate?
At the bureau we receive questions relating to tenancy and sometimes after questioning the client we find that the question is not related to tenant/landlord situation but to a flatmate or boarding situation. So what is the difference? A tenant is the person(s) who rents premises from a landlord – the person who signs the tenancy agreement and has rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancy Act.
A flatmate is a person who lives in the rental premises but who has not signed the tenancy agreement with the landlord.
A flatmate is responsible to the tenant(s) who have signed the tenancy agreement.
The rights of a flatmate will depend on the agreement they have with the tenant – a written flatmate agreement is a good idea.
A flatmate is not covered under the Residential Tenancy Act.
A flatmate usually contributes towards the rent, power and food and is partly responsible for the cleaning of the flat.
A boarder, of which there is one or two in a house, is similar to a flatmate, however usually pays a set amount each week which in the majority of cases covers rent, power and food.
A boarder is usually responsible for only cleaning their room, and in some cases washing and cooking is provided as part of the agreement.
A boarder is not covered under the Residential Tenancy Act.
A boarding house tenancy is an agreement covering one bedroom, in a house with shared facilities with at least five others.
The agreement has to be intended to last for at least 28 days to be covered under the Residential Tenancy Act.
When things go wrong, and disputes arise, depending on the ‘‘tenancy’’ is determined by the remedy and the rights someone has.
To find out more you could visit cab.org.nz and click on Housing, Land and Environment, and select – Residential tenancy or Flatting and Boarding.
Another option for tenants and landlords is dbh.govt.nz/tenancyindex.
Citizens Advice Bureau Porirua is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm and until 7pm on Thursday, Pember House, level 2, 16 Hagley Street, Porirua. Please call us on 04 237 8846 or free phone 0800 367 222, email us on email@example.com or visit cab.org.nz. Our service is free and confidential.