The Education (Hostels) Regulations 2005: Guidelines

All hostels that fit the definition of ‘hostel’ in the Education and Training Act and the regulations, and their owners, must comply with the regulations.

The definition covers a wide range of boarding establishments – for example:

  • residential specialist schools
  • health camps
  • hostels operated by state and state integrated schools,
  • private hostels serving groups of international students attending registered schools.

It does not, however, cover private boarding where a homeowner provides accommodation to less than five students. Nor does it cover boarding when students attending a registered school are not the main group of people being accommodated.

These guidelines provide further explanation and should be read in association with the regulations. The headings correlate to the relevant parts and requirements of the regulations to make it easy to read the two together.

Appendix A: Summary of some other relevant legislation

The following summary information is provided for indicative purposes only and should not be regarded as comprehensive analysis or used as a definitive source.

  • Summary of other relevant legislation
    • General Legislation

      Human Rights Act 1993

      Makes it unlawful to discriminate in some areas of everyday life (including the provision of accommodation).

      New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990

      Affirms certain rights and freedoms including the right not to be subjected to torture or cruel treatment, freedom from discrimination on the grounds set out in the Human Rights Act, and the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure. It covers any person or body performing any statutory function, power or duty imposed on that person or body authorised by law.
      Safety Legislation

      Building Act 2004

      • Hostel facilities would be subject to this Act and to the New Zealand Building Code (see below).

      s40 Building consent

      • All building work (constructed altered or demolished) requires a building consent (except certain minor work and special circumstances) and the owner must give advice to the territorial local authority that the building work has been completed. 
      • The territorial authority will issue a completed building with a code of compliance certificate stating compliance. 

      s100 Compliance schedule

      • Buildings containing specified systems including, lifts, escalators, fire protection systems, mechanical hydraulic or electrical systems must have compliance schedules.

       s108 Building warrant of fitness

      • The owner of the building must supply an annual warrant of fitness to the territorial authority that the building meets the compliance schedule requirements for the previous 12 months.
      • A copy of the warrant of fitness has to be displayed publicly. 

       s114 Change of use of buildings

      • The owner must advise the territorial authority if they intend to change the use of the building and the change will require alterations to the building or extend its life.


      • Access to buildings by disabled persons – requirements in accordance with the relevant New Zealand Standard. 

      s16 Building code

      • Regulations are to be called ‘the building code’ and this prescribes the requirements for buildings and performance criteria.

      s121 Dangerous buildings

      • Defines ‘dangerous buildings’ and includes buildings used for accommodation purposes. The powers of the territorial authority with respect to dangerous buildings are set out in S124.
      Building Regulations 1992  

      The New Zealand Building Code

      • Forms part of the building regulations under section 16 of the Building Act. 
      • The code is mandatory. 

      Classification of building by use

      Hostels would be covered under ‘communal residential’ and subject to a number of performance measures in relation to:
      • structure
      • durability 
      • outbreak of fire 
      • means of escape – fire
      • spread of fire
      • structural stability during fire 
      • access routes and mechanical installations for access
      • surface water – to safeguard people from injury and illness caused by surface water
      • external and internal moisture
      • hazardous agents on site, hazardous building materials, substances and processes 
      • safety from injury by falling 
      • construction and demolition hazards
      • lighting for emergency
      • warning systems
      • signs
      • personal hygiene
      • laundering
      • ventilation
      • interior environment
      • airborne and impact sound
      • natural light
      • artificial light
      • electricity
      • piped services 
      • gas and energy source
      • water supplies
      • foul water
      • solid waste. 

      Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 

      Sets out the law relating to the health and safety of employees and others in the workplace. 

      Places duties on employers

      • Duty to provide a safe working environment.
      • Duty to have effective measures in place to identify and minimise hazards. 
      • Duty to provide information about monitoring hazards to employees. 
      • Duty to provide training and supervision for certain kinds of work. 
      • Duty to develop procedures for dealing with emergencies. 

      Codes of Practice and regulations

      A code has been issued by the Secretary for Education under s70(2) of the Education Act 1989. The code contains minimum standards in relation to lighting, cleanliness, first aid and storage of dangerous materials. The code places requirements on school Boards of Trustees to ensure that any building under their control meets the standards and requirements in the code. The code does not specifically cover hostels, although there may be some indirect coverage, particularly if the hostel is situated on school premises. 

      Recording and notification of accidents -s10,11

      • Requirement on employers to maintain a register of accidents affecting any employee or any person. 
      • Notify the Labour Dept as soon as possible that serious harm/accident has occurred and provide details in writing within 7 days. 

      Suspension notices and

      • Employers to comply with suspension notices and improvement notices. 

      Information – s12 Train and supervise employees

      • Obligation to provide health and safety information to employees. 
      • Obligation to train and supervise employees in health and safety procedures. 

      Development of health and safety procedures – s14

      • Obligation to involve employees in the development of health and safety procedures. 

      Duties of employees – s19

      • Obligation that no action or inaction of an employee causes harm to any other person. 


      • Offences can lead to fines of up to $100,000 or 1 year imprisonment.

      Health and Safety in Employment Regulations 1995

      Provide greater detail than the Act about the specific duties that apply to employers in general. These regulations are likely to apply less frequently to hostels given that they deal in greater detail with more specialised hazards. However, the person who controls the hostel must take all practicable steps to ensure that any activity at the hostel does not cause harm to the health and safety of persons under 15 years of age (reg59(1)(d) refers.

      The Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016

      Requirements are to notify the territorial authority of the existence of a pool (or intention to construct a pool) and to fence the pool as required. 

      The Fire Safety and Evacuation of Building Regulations 2006

      Put in place a number of fire safety measures such as requirements for evacuation procedures, storage of goods and material and maintenance of fire fighting equipment.

      The Food Hygiene Regulations 1974

      Provide for the control of hygiene in food premises and in the manufacture, preparation, packaging storage, handling and sale of food, including the operation of food vending machines. 

      Partially exempted premises

      Partially exempted premises are defined as food premises that are part of any boarding house or educational institution. 

      Health Act 1956

      General requirements to protect public health, including in relation to a supply of potable water and sanitary conditions.

      Smoke Free Environments Act 1990

      Places a number of duties on employers, including the requirement to have a written policy on smoking for the workplace.

      Other Relevant Legislation

      Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989

      Allegations of abuse could trigger powers of investigation under this Act. 

      Crimes Act 1961 and the Summary Offences Act 1981

      Offences under these Acts are where persons having custody and control over children under the age of 17 tolerate or cause ill-treatment or wilful neglect. (s195, s10A and 10B).

      There is a duty under the Crimes Act to provide for the necessities of life.