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.

Part 3: Minimum standards for hostel premises and facilities

This part of the regulations sets out requirements for hostel premises and facilities, building maintenance, emergency management and general safety.

  • Provision of necessary spaces, facilities and equipment
    • Because it is not possible to account for all hostel circumstances, the regulations establish minimum requirements for facilities and equipment without prescribing exactly how those requirements must be met. The key point to remember is that both you and the Authority must be satisfied that the requirements have been met. You may be able to include cross-referenced sections of hostel publications to support or demonstrate compliance with these requirements.

      Also, the regulations do not prevent a hostel from controlling use of these facilities – for example, setting ‘normal’ visiting times or having a booking system for meeting rooms or telecommunications equipment.

      The following are examples of facilities which hostels may provide and serve as a prompt for further thinking by hostel owners about what is appropriate for their particular premises.

      Boarders’ recreation

      Facilities might include social space, television and games room(s), and access to nearby school cultural and sporting facilities and equipment. If the hostel is remotely located from the school, similar facilities might be provided at the hostel premises or arrangements made for the boarders to have access to other local facilities.

      Quiet activities

      Quiet places for study such as a ‘prep room’ or private spaces within or adjacent to sleeping areas. Provision might also be made for access to a library, and computers for research and recreation.

      Food preparation

      Facilities might include a place to make hot drinks and heat snack foods adjacent to recreation areas, and/or flat style accommodation with self-catering facilities. Student access to the main hostel kitchen should be restricted because of food hygiene and health and safety concerns.


      A communal dining room, and/or flat-style accommodation with separate dining facilities are two examples of what might be appropriate.


      Sleeping arrangements will vary between hostels and there is no intention to prevent the use of dormitory-style sleeping facilities. Consideration should, however, be given to the need to separate boarders for reasons such as differences in age, sex, or any special needs.

      New Zealand Standard NZS 9201: Part 3:1999 (Model General Bylaw – Hostels) has the following guidelines on the numbers of people who should be permitted to occupy a ‘bedroom’. The Authority will consider space requirements when determining the maximum number of boarders a hostel may accommodate.

      Number of persons permitted to sleep in a bedroom

      Area of bedroom

      Number of persons

      • Under 4.5 m2
      • 4.5 m2 or more but less than 6 m2 Nil
      • Nil
      • ½¹ in an existing building but nil in a new building² 
      • 6 m2 or more but less than 10 m2
      • 1
      • 8 m2 or more but less than 10 m2
      •  1½
      • 10 m2 or more but less than 12 m2
      • 2
      • 12 m2 or more but less than 14 m2
      • 14 m2 or more but less than 17 m2 
      • 3
      • 17 m2 or more but less than 20 m2
      • 20 m2 or more 
      • 4 persons and 1 additional person for each additional couple 5 m2

      ¹ For the purposes of this table ½ a person means a child who is one year or more but under 10 years of age 
      ² For the purposes of this table an existing building means a building existing before 10 October 1947 when the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947 came into force

      Personal hygiene and privacy 

      Where there are open or shared sleeping spaces, separate changing facilities will be needed to meet the privacy requirements of the regulations. Toilet and bathing areas should be partitioned for a reasonable degree of privacy. They also need to be easily accessible so should be reasonably close to sleeping areas.

      Laundering of clothing

      Facilities for boarders to wash personal clothing need to be provided on site.

      Secure storage of personal effects

      The requirements of the regulations could be met through the provision of lockable storage facilities in or close to sleeping areas.

      Boarders meeting and communication facilities

      The requirement to provide space for students to meet with parents or other visitors in privacy could be met by having a dedicated meeting room.

      The use of card phones allows boarders to make prepaid phone calls. A range of other solutions are also available to manage the use of phones and other telecommunications.


  • Lighting, heating and ventilation
    • Owing to the range and variation of heating and lighting systems and hostel premises, no specific guidance can be given. It is recommended that you get specialist advice about the adequacy of lighting, heating and ventilation.

      General advice is also available in Ministry of Education guidance Health and safety management

  • Maintenance and safe use of buildings and facilities
    • The requirements of the regulations mean that any necessary repairs to the hostel and its facilities should be undertaken without undue delay. It is also recommended that you develop and follow a long-term rolling maintenance plan to ensure your hostel is kept in a state of good repair.

  • Safety and hygiene of premises generally
    • To meet the requirements of the regulations it is recommended that, as far as practicable, you check that items purchased for use in the hostel comply with relevant New Zealand Standards.

      The development of a hostel cleaning plan documenting the frequency and methods of cleaning is desirable. Assistance and advice about cleaning plans are available from reputable cleaning chemical suppliers. Suppliers should also be able to provide material safety data sheets for all products used and advice about storage, safe use, and clean-up of spills, or how to deal with accidental exposure to a product.

  • First-aid
    • You must make provisions for first aid, including supplying equipment and supplies, and trained staff.

      A first aid kit containing the following items is suitable for a hostel accommodating 75 people.

      Number Item
      4 Triangular bandages
      9 Roller bandages [including crepe bandages 50mm and 75mm sizes]
      10 Sterile dressings [75x75mm packets] 
      2 Adhesive wound dressing strip [100mm packets] 
      1 Waterproof adhesive plaster [50mm reel] 
      5 Sterile non-adhesive pads [100 x 100mm packets] 
      4 Sterile eye pads 
      1 Container for pouring water over eye [plastic squeeze bottle] 
      1 Receptacle for soiled dressings [bucket with foot operated lid] 
      1 250 ml antiseptic liquid 
      1 Safety pins [card]
      1 Scissors – surgical or equivalent stainless steel [pair] 
      1 Splinter forceps, fine point – stainless steel 
      1 Injury register and pen 
      1 First Aid Booklet 
      1 Card listing local emergency numbers 
      8 Disposable gloves – large size or multi fitting [pairs]

      First aid training should be completed to certificate standard and be based on a New Zealand Qualifications Authority approved course. Refer to the yellow pages or your local phone book for suitable providers.