Our home is often our place of refuge or our ‘safe place’, so our renting relationships can have a big impact on us.

When you are having a disagreement - Discuss the problem, not the person.

When someone feels personally attacked they defend themselves by denying they are ‘wrong’ or deflect away by blaming someone or something else.


Tenant / Landlord

Tenants and landlords have a contractual relationship with specific rights and responsibilities. They often look to the law to clarify who is right or wrong, and who is being unfair or unreasonable – but bad behaviour is not always a breach of tenancy law.

Good relationships can result in casual behaviour i.e. not recording agreements in writing or the landlord ‘dropping in’ without giving proper notice. If the relationship sours during the tenancy, then it is harder to separate the personal issues from the tenancy issues if the business of the tenancy has been too casual.


Sharing the house

How the bills should be divided, eating other people’s food, freeloading guests, being late paying the rent – the reasons for disputes are endless. The key to sharing a home is sharing expectations, and having good and open communication. Flat meetings are not just for students!



When more than one person is signed on the tenancy agreement they are called co-tenants. Contractually speaking co-tenants are equal but in reality, just like other relationships, the balance may not be equal. The landlord will often choose to communicate with one person so they do not have to repeat themselves.

To avoid problems co-tenants should

  • all have access to the tenancy agreement and any letters sent by the landlord
  • be aware of any correspondence sent to the landlord on behalf of the tenants
  • have access to the bank statements if there is a flat account
  • Always know if the rent is up to date! Any rent arrears are shared equally by the co-tenants, so make sure that the full rent is paid to the landlord every week.


Flatmate / Tenant

The tenant is signed on the tenancy contract, and the flatmate is not. This can create an uneven power dynamic. Good communication and a clear flatmate agreement can limit the ‘fall-out from a falling-out’. Flatmates may not be on the contract but they still need to look after the flat and act responsibly so the tenant /s should take care to make flatmates feel valued and important.



The biggest mistake landlords make when they have a boarder is treating them like a weekly pay-check to put towards the mortgage. A boarder needs the feeling of home just like everyone else. It is important to have house rules however don’t let the power imbalance cause resentment which can simmer away in the background. If you have particular house rules (e.g. about guests, power usage or access to certain areas of the house) make this clear before the boarder moves in. Remind your family and guests to treat the boarder with respect – again, it’s their home too.



Family who live together or off each other often think they don’t need to have any contracts or written agreements. It is almost impossible to separate our personal feelings in family disputes so think of your tenancy agreement as being your insurance policy to limit the damage to your relationship if you have a tenancy dispute. Children value the stability of home and can be very uncomfortable and unsettled if they have to deal with the landlord about the tenancy.


If your family offer you any tenancy advice – smile, say thank you, and then call a professional!

Your family are biased because they love you, they may also have a lot of power or influence over you. The best tenancy advice is from specialists in tenancy law and tenancy issues. Listen to Mum – but don’t rely on her opinion only.


Living with your partner

When romantic relationships end, then normally one will want to move out. If you are in a new relationship, or having another attempt at a past relationship, a periodic tenancy contract might be better than a fixed term contract.


Fights - your flatmates don’t want to be involved in them so try and keep relationship dramas out of communal areas, and don’t ask them to take sides.



Your relationships with neighbours may have a big impact on your tenancy.


Different lifestyles Be considerate. eg. if you know that your neighbour works night shifts, wait until they are awake to mow your lawns.
Shared driveways Don't block the area in front of garages or in areas where cars turn around etc.   Remind your guests to keep off communal areas.
Sharing a wall Keep washing machines and dryers, stereos and TV's away from shared walls.
Parties Let the affected neighbours know well in advance if univited guests turn up or the noise gets too loud.
Pets Make sure you have appropriate fencing for dogs and are aware of the impact barking etc can have.
Gossip Don't get drawn into issues that you do not need to be involved in, or share information about someone's tenancy with people that do not need to know.

Contact Details

Tenants Protection Association (ChCh) Inc
Te Tōpū Tiaki-ā-Kainoho
Room 3, 301 Tuam Street, Christchurch 8011
Ph.(03) 379-2297

info [at] tpa [dot] org [dot] nz (subject: Enquiry%20from%20Website)