Share houses, co-tenants and sub-letting

Share houses

A share house is where two or more tenants rent a single property. There are two types of share house leases: sub-letting and co-tenant.

Share houses are different from boarding premises


In this arrangement, two or more tenants rent the property with all names appearing on the lease and condition report. Only one bond can be paid for the property. Each tenant should note their contribution to the bond (see Paying a bond ).

If a tenant leaves a share house, they should contact the owner to make sure their name is removed from the lease (see Transferring the bond ).

A new tenant entering a share house replacing an outgoing tenant:

  • needs to have the owner’s permission to move in, and
  • should have their name added to the lease.

The ingoing tenant is then jointly responsible for the property with the other tenants, to return it the condition it was at the beginning of the tenancy.


One tenant (called the head-tenant) rents the property. The head-tenant then rents (or sub-lets) the property to the other tenants (called the sub-tenants).

The head-tenant:

  • must live at the property (unless they are the employer of the sub-tenant)
  • must have the owner’s permission, and
  • is responsible to the owner for the rental bond and the rent for the property.

The property owner cannot unreasonably deny permission for the head-tenant to sub-let.

The Residential Tenancy Act 1997 does not apply to the sub-tenant. Therefore, the Residential Tenancy Commissioner cannot help a sub-tenant when there is a dispute. Rather, disputes between a head-tenant and a sub-tenant need to be sorted out between the parties.

Updated: 02 Jul 2020