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Your rights

As a legal tenant of a property (listed on tenancy agreement), you have some legal protection from being exploited or treated badly. Some of your rights include:

  • the property being kept in good condition
  • the property meeting certain health and safety standards
  • your bond repayment being signed by both of you
  • your landlord generally can’t just show up whenever they like without notice (though there may be exceptions).

Your rights may be different when you rent a room instead of an entire flat, whether you’re a legal tenant or a flatmate (not listed on the tenancy agreement), or if you’re in a boarding house. Get more details about your rights on the Tenancy Services website.

It is also illegal for landlords to discriminate against people with a disability. Find out more about disability rights for housing and accommodation on the Community Law website.

Your responsibilities

Moving into a new place can bring different responsibilities. These should be explained in your tenancy agreement and may be a combination of expectations from current tenants, and the property manager or landlord. Some examples include:

  • paying your rent on time
  • keeping the place tidy
  • what to do if something is damaged

Boarding houses can have different rules, so make sure these are made clear to you before moving in.

Tenancy agreements

“With flatting, I'd recommend reading the contract, then also getting someone else to read over as well, especially all the little things right at the bottom, and also getting to know your landlord.”

 - Alani

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding document signed by you (the tenant) and the landlord. It includes vital information like:

  • the address of the rental property.
  • the amount of rent and how often you’ll need to pay it.
  • how many people can live in the property.
  • the start and end date of your tenancy.

The document will also tell you what type of tenancy you’ve agreed to. There are generally two types:

  1. A periodic tenancy means there is no end date, so if you want to move out you’ll have to give your landlord a written notice within an agreed time.
  2. A fixed-term tenancy lasts for a set amount of time, such as a year. You won’t be able to move out sooner unless you’ve negotiated this with your landlord, which can be a complicated process. Make sure you know you can commit before agreeing to one of these.

It’s a good idea to have a copy of your tenancy agreement and other important documents, like inspection reports and emails, in case anything gets deleted online.

If you’re under 18, it may be difficult to get a landlord to agree to a tenancy agreement. In some cases, you may be asked for a parent or legal guardian to sign on your behalf.

Legal support

It’s generally advisable to maintain a good relationship with your landlord, but sometimes, things can go wrong.

If you’re having problems with your landlord that you can’t settle among yourselves, Tenancy Services can help. They can provide advice, check for landlord compliance with the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, and help set up mediation sessions between you and your landlord. If mediation doesn’t work you can take your case to the Tenancy Tribunal. There is a cost in going to the Tribunal however, so it’s best to try and resolve your issues before going there.

If you need advice or are unsure if your landlord is acting against your rights, you can contact Youth Law for free legal help.

Video transcript available for Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Open Close
Tenancy Compliance and Investigations

House 1: Hey... I've got a bit of a... problem.

Apartment: What is it?

House 1: There's a hole by my back door and you can see my drawers.

Apartment: Oh, that's nasty. Hey, everyone!

House 1: Shush!

Apartment: Check out this guy's drawers!

House 2: Eww...! Now your tenant should talk to the landlord

Apartment: Totally. That is the first thing to try.

House 1: They did, but he's not fixing it. A child fell through it the other day!

Apartment: Oh, that's disgraceful!

House 3: My landlord once didn't give the bond back. It had to go to the Tenancy Tribunal. But they were awesome. They sorted it all out for us.

House 2: What I reckon is... If it's been there for a while and the landlord's not doing anything, it's a compliance issue. The Tenancy Services Compliance and Investigations team might be able to help you with that

Apartment: Yeah, the team stepped in when a friend of mine had a fire. Landlord hadn't actually installed smoke alarms. Major. Fail.

House 1: Well, it turns out the Tenancy Services Compliance and Investigation Team can help with compliance issues. Like if the property is a significant risk to health or safety Or if the landlord has committed a serious or ongoing breach of the Act. The team can also advise you on how to reach resolution yourself and can visit landlords and property managers to audit their processes.
There's more information at