When migrating to another country, there is always so much to think about, and choosing where to live when you arrive is another layer of stress. With the majority of migrants needing to rent a property on arrival, we thought we would make it easier for you by giving you a quick overview on everything you need to know about renting a property in New Zealand.
For further information on renting or buying property in New Zealand make sure you download our comprehensive guide below.
Types of tenancies
There are two different types of tenancies available in New Zealand – fixed term and periodic.
Fixed term tenancies have a start date and an end date and cannot be terminated by notice by either party unless both parties agree to terminate sooner.
This type of tenancy provides more flexibility since it can be terminated by notice by either party if their personal circumstances change. The standard notice periods are either 42 or 90 days by the landlord depending on the situation or 21 days by the tenant.
Some rental properties are listed as units, what is a unit?
This is used to describe smaller properties, similar to apartments and flats that may be attached to another property.
References and identification
If seeking a rental property through a property agent you will be required to complete a tenancy application form. Make sure you request this form as soon as you start your search, so you have all the information required in order for your search process to start. You will be required to supply references along with the completed and signed tenancy application form.
One of the most valuable references is from a previous landlord. ,(UK landlords references are normally acceptable). However, if you have not rented before character references from employers, a real estate salesperson (if you have sold your home) or any other person not directly related to you and your family will be required. You will be asked for photo ID (such as your passport or driver’s license), and may also be required to provide proof of income and visa status.
Questions to ask when viewing a rental property
Will my rental be furnished vs unfurnished
In the main cities in New Zealand, the majority of rental properties are unfurnished, although more furnished properties – especially apartments – are coming to the market. In some cases, whiteware may be provided in unfurnished properties.
Letting fees and costs
In New Zealand, when renting through a real estate agent, the tenant not the owner is responsible for paying the letting fee – usually a sum equivalent to one week’s rent + GST ( approx. 15%). You will also be required to pay up to two weeks rent in advance, plus a bond, which can be up to the equivalent of four weeks rent.
You may already have arranged for your pet to be sent to New Zealand and on your arrival your much loved pet is ready to join you. As in the UK, not all property owners will accept pets, particularly dogs. But many do change their mind after meeting the applicants and their pet so it’s worth asking.
When you are applying for a property, it’s a good idea to include with your application:
- A pet reference from your previous landlord, or from your salesperson if you’ve moved out of your own property
- A photo of the pet and lots of details about them – breed, size, where they sleep, etc
A copy of their council registration (if your pet is a dog, this is a requirement for all dogs living in NZ). http://www.dogsafety.govt.nz/dogsafety.nsf/wpg_URL/Your-Council-Registration-&-Microchipping-Index!OpenDocument
Additional Q&A’s relating to renting property in New Zealand
Can the landlord insist that tenants pay four weeks rent in advance?
The Residential Tenancies Act does not permit a landlord to require more than two weeks rent in advance. However, tenants can ‘offer’ to pay more, say calendar monthly.
What happens to my bond?
The bond is lodged with Tenancy Services (part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) who hold it in trust. https://tenancy.govt.nz/rent-bond-and-bills/bond/
The landlord may make a claim against the bond for any of the following reasons – rent arrears, damages, outstanding water accounts, cleaning, lawns and gardens, rubbish removal.
If the tenants and the landlord cannot agree on the amount being claimed, either of them may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the matter.
Can the rent be increased during a tenancy?
Fixed term tenancy
Yes, but only if the Tenancy Agreement allows for it.
How much notice does the landlord have to give when increasing rent?
For both fixed term and periodic tenancies, the landlord must provide tenants with at least 60 days’ notice of the increase. The rent cannot be increased within 180 days after the date the last increase took place or from the start date of the tenancy.
Can the landlord sell the property if I have a fixed term tenancy?
Yes, the landlord has the right to list and sell their property regardless of the term of the tenancy. However tenants will be entitled to remain in the property for the duration of the fixed term. This term may be extended if tenants and the new landlord agree.
Can a tenant have flatmates?
Yes, as long as the number of people in the property does not exceed that stipulated on the Tenancy Agreement.
A flatmate is not legally responsible for the tenancy. The only persons who are liable are those who are specifically named and have signed the Tenancy Agreement.
It is common practice for more than one person living in a property to sign the Tenancy Agreement. This makes them all jointly and severally liable for meeting the terms of the agreement.
What happens if one or more of the named tenants on a periodic tenancy move out during the tenancy?
If any one of those named on the Tenancy Agreement move out of the property this effectively brings the tenancy to an end, but if the remaining tenants wish to continue with the tenancy, they can contact their estate manager or landlord direct to discuss what options are available.
If one of the flatmates leaves, can the tenants change the locks?
Not without the consent of the landlord. If it is agreed then tenants are obliged to provide their landlord with a set of the new keys.
When can the landlord or agent enter the property? How much notice am I entitled to?
Notice for access varies as follows:
- If tenants agree, the landlord can enter the property immediately
- For the purpose of carrying out a routine inspection – 48 hours.
- For the purpose of carrying out necessary repairs or maintenance – 24 hours
- For the purpose of showing the property to prospective tenants, purchasers or a registered valuer – by consent (which cannot be unreasonably withheld).
What happens if something in the property needs to be fixed?
It is the tenants’ responsibility to notify the landlord as soon as possible of any repairs or maintenance required so they can take the necessary action.
We trust you found this quick guide to renting in New Zealand helpful.