FAQs for the RTA

February 2024

Reading Time: 3 Minutes  

Both landlords and tenants have responsibilities as outlined under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. We answer some frequently asked questions.

What is the RTA? 

This Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA) regulates the relationships between landlords and tenants, establishing a framework for effective rental agreements. Additionally, it empowers both parties to express valid concerns and establishes explicit expectations for each party. 

Read all about Landlord Responsibilities, Tenant Responsibilities and Key Features of the RTA  

Can I Contract Out of the RTA?  

In August 2019, the passing of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill No 2 expanded the authority of the Tenancy Tribunal to issue rulings on any premises used as a residence, even in cases where the premises were considered unlawful dwellings.  

Sleepouts, converted garages and any other additional dwellings on land without a separate title fall into this category.  

Many landlords have extra dwellings such of these on their properties, posing an interesting question – can a landlord contract out of the RTA and rent out a separate dwelling that is on a title with another property?  

Look in detail at a landmark case in Residential Tenancies Act, Can Landlords Opt Out? 

In essence, you cannot contract out of the RTA. Any attempt to enter into an agreement between a landlord and a tenant that is inconsistent with the RTA will have no effect.

What Happens When There is No Written Tenancy Agreement? 

Even without a written tenancy agreement, both the tenant and the landlord are obligated to fulfil their responsibilities under the RTA. This includes notice, bond and dispute resolution responsibilities.  

However, having a written tenancy agreement makes it easier to resolve tenancy disputes in the Tenancy Tribunal, providing a clear record of the agreed-upon terms. 

Read about Tenancy Disputes and the Tenancy Tribunal Process 

Who is Protected Under the RTA? 

The Act protects tenants, not flatmates.  

If you've signed a tenancy agreement with a landlord then you are a tenant and benefit from the legal protection provided under the RTA. However, any flatmates that you bring into the house who have not signed the tenancy agreement are not considered tenants and will not be covered under the Act. As the tenant who has signed the tenancy agreement, you are the head tenant, and you are legally responsible for the entirety of the tenancy.  

Find out: Do You Need a Flatmate Agreement?

Does the RTA Cover Me if I Live with My Parents? 

The RTA does not generally apply if the landlord or property owner, or a member of their family, lives in the property. 

If all parties agree to it, it is possible to contract into some or all of the provisions of the RTA. In this instance you would need to agree on which clauses will apply to your tenancy and record your agreement in writing. Both parties would need to sign and keep a copy of the written agreement. 

Have More Questions About the Residency Tenancies Act and How it Affects You? 

Contact the helpful Crockers Property Management team at pm@crockers.co.nz or call for a chat on 09 623 5952. 


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