Renting a Property in New Zealand

Articles > Renting a Property in New Zealand

Whether you intend to buy or rent, it makes sense to rent a property when you first arrive in New Zealand, so you can see the lay of the land before you commit yourself to living in a particular area. Buying a property and then finding the area is not what you expected is an expensive mistake to make.

Rental prices vary enormously, depending on the area you are intending to settle in. Obviously, cities, especially Auckland, can command the highest rents. The majority of rentals are unfurnished. Rentals can be found directly from landlords’ adverts, from estate agents and from sites like TradeMeProperty. Properties are in short supply, so quick responses to adverts are essential.

Types of Rental Agreement

  • Fixed Term:
    this type of tenancy agreement has a start and end date. It can’t be terminated before the end date unless both parties are in agreement.
  • Periodic Term:
    this type of tenancy agreement can be terminated by giving notice. The usual notice periods are 21 days’ notice to be given by the tenant and 42 or 90 days’ notice given by the landlord, depending on the circumstances.

Costs and Fees

  • Letting fee:
    if you rent through an estate agent, you’ll have to pay a letting fee which is usually one week’s rent + GST
  • Rent in advance:
    usually two weeks’ rent to be paid upfront
  • Bond:
    the landlord will need a bond. The landlord cannot legally ask for more than 4 weeks rent. The bond is lodged with Tenancy Services. On leaving your rented property, assuming you are not in arrears with the rent, haven’t caused any damage, you’ve left the property clean and free of rubbish and have paid all your utility bills, this money will be refunded to you.
  • Rental increase:
    the landlord can increase your rent by giving you at least 60 days’ notice. The landlord can’t increase your rent within 180 days of the last increase and also within 180 days of the commencement of the tenancy agreement.
  • Insurance:
    insure your own belongings and include insurance for any damage your belongings may cause to the property, i.e., your washing machine floods the house.
  • Utilities:
    you will be responsible for utility bills such as electricity, gas and water.

Tenancy Agreement
Many landlords use the standard Tenancy Agreement which the Department of Building and Housing provides free of charge. If you’re unhappy with the agreement you are asked to sign, you can always get a lawyer to look at it.
When you sign your lease, you’ll need to provide photographic identification, such as a passport and references. The ideal references will be from former landlords but if you haven’t rented before then get character references from former employers, estate agents you’ve used to sell or buy a property or anyone of standing who isn’t related to you. Many landlords and estate agents also ask for proof of income.

It’s important that you tell your prospective landlord if you intend to bring a pet into the property. Many landlords say they won’t take dogs but if you can persuade them that Fido is well behaved and, better still, provide doggy references, then landlords often change their minds.