Another Victory in the Tenancy Tribunal Against the Elusive ‘Studio Apartment’

Boarding houses? More like hoarding houses

Another property rented as a ‘studio room’ has been ruled a boarding house by the Tenancy Tribunal, continuing a trend of Dunedin landlords requiring tenants to sign illegal fixed term contracts when renting studio rooms that turned out to not actually meet the legal definition of a studio room. 

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, a boarding house has six or more rooms that individual tenants can rent and communal facilities like bathrooms and kitchens. Unlike their friends in flats or self-contained apartments, tenants in boarding houses can terminate their tenancy with only 48 hours notice, so the lucky buggers don’t have to pay rent for a fixed term, meaning they don’t have to pay over the summer when they’re not living in Dunedin.

Last year, the Tenancy Tribunal was brought another incident of students living in a boarding house, while being charged studio apartment fees. Two students submitted a claim against Edinburgh Realty LTD, who had locked them in an illegal, fixed 12-month contract. 

The tenants had figured out the dastardly plan and provided a 48-hour notice of termination, which the landlord rejected, because of the contract, stating the lease was fixed-term from the 1st of January 2018 to the 31st of December 2018. 

Had the tenants not known the difference between the two types of properties, they could have ended up paying months of rent unnecessarily, as many others left in the dark have. 

One key sign you’re living in a boarding house is if you’re in an allocated room, decided upon by your landlord, with a communal living space. 

This article first appeared in Issue 1, 2019.
Posted 9:21pm Thursday 21st February 2019 by Sophia Carter Peters.