As the head tenant, can I ask my flatmate to leave with two weeks' notice, even if we don't have a contract?

Question Details: In my flat, rent and bond are both paid two weeks in advance. I emailed my flatmate, asking her to leave by a date and gave a reason. She says she might stay on until she finds somewhere! Or she wants to leave a week early with a refund of a week's rent. This would mean I'd have to pay her rent for a week. She is saying that she doesn't have to move out because we don't have a contract.

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Answers by Lawyers

Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

Yes, you can still ask your flatmate to leave, even if you do not have a written flat-sharing agreement. Remember, though, that whatever you and your flatmate have agreed between you (in emails, in texts, or verbally) can form a contract, even if you haven't written a contract out on paper.

The rights and obligations between you and your flatmate will be determined by whatever written or oral arrangements you have agreed as flatmates regarding notice periods, rent and other arrangements for when someone moves out.

From what you have told us there does not appear to be any such written or oral arrangement in place. So you are entitled to ask her to leave without you paying her rent, and without any specific notice period - you just have to give reasonable notice. What is reasonable depends on the circumstances, but usually two or three weeks' notice is fine.

(Remember also that if your flatmate has signed the tenancy agreement with your landlord then you cannot evict her so easily.)

If there is a dispute between and your flatmate about notice, or final rent or bills owed, it may be possible to resolve this in the Disputes Tribunal. For further information on the Disputes Tribunal please head to this website:

Answered 21 Jan 2013. The IMPORTANT NOTICE below is part of this answer.

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