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 ).

Any new tenant to the share house to replace the 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.


In a sub-letting arrangement, one tenant (called the head-tenant) rents the property and then rents (sub-lets) it to the other tenant (called the sub-tenant).

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 where there is a dispute. Rather, disputes between a head-tenant and a sub-tenant need to be sorted out between the parties.