Renting Q & A

Application processes will differ between real estate agents and landlords, but the process typically requires that you fill out a Pre-Tenancy Application form. This form asks you for a variety of personal information that will help a landlord assess your suitability for renting their property. The information you provide on the form may be used to undertake a Credit Check, so ensure you answer the questions honestly.
Typically, the following information is requested on the form:

  • Proof of your previous addresses, with your rental property history included
  • Proof of your current and previous employment history (and income)
  • The names and number of people intending to rent the property with you
  • The name of the person who will be the contracting party (or lead tenant)
  • The date you wish to move into the rental property
  • Proof of identity (Photo identification, such as a drivers licence or passport)

Your completed form should be given to the letting agent or landlord for processing.

A Tenancy Agreement is a legal agreement between a tenant and landlord that covers the obligations for both parties and is governed by New Zealand law.

The most common type of tenancy in New Zealand is a periodic rental. In this case, you agree to rent the property on an ongoing basis. The agreement specifies the minimum number of weeks' notice that either the landlord or tenant must give in order to terminate the agreement. Less common are fixed term rental agreements, where a specified period of time (such as 6 months, or 1 year) is agreed to. In this instance, the tenant agrees to pay rent for the agreed term of the lease taken.

Tenancy Agreement forms (blank) are available from theDepartment of Building and Housingwebsite. Some of the items a Tenancy Agreement must cover are:

  • The names and contact addresses of the landlord and tenant
  • The address of the property being rented
  • The date the Tenancy Agreement is signed by both parties
  • The date the tenancy is to begin at the property
  • Addresses for service for both the landlord and the tenant
  • Whether the tenant is under the age of 18 (and may therefore need a guarantor or parent signature for the agreement)
  • The rent amount being charged, and frequency of rent payments to be paid.
  • The amount of any bond being paid by the tenant to the landlord. Under New Zealand law these bond funds must then be sent with to the Department of Building and Housing within 23 days of receipt of the funds by the landlord
  • The place or bank account number where the rent is to be paid
  • Any letting agent or solicitor fees to be paid by the tenant or landlord (if applicable)
  • A list of any chattels (like furniture, curtains and other fittings) provided by the landlord, as part of the tenancy. Normally the condition of these chattels is also noted in the agreement

A Tenancy Agreement may also include other information, such as the (maximum) number of people that are allowed to live in the flat or house, whether sub-letting is allowed, whether smoking is allowed on the property, or car parking details etc.

To make sure you’re serious when applying for a tenancy, a landlord may require that you pay an option fee. An option fee is a payment (deposit) of no more than one week’s rent that must be refunded or used as rent if you take the rental property. The option fee must be mentioned in your Tenancy Agreement. When the landlord receives your option fee, they will usually stop marketing the property to other tenants, with the expectation that you will soon move in to the property.

If you change your mind and decide not to rent the place after paying the option fee, the Landlord is entitled to keep it. Therefore you should only pay option fees on those rental properties that you fully intend to move into.

When you move into a rental property, most landlords will ask for an amount equivalent to a few weeks of rent (usually four weeks) up front, for security. This is called a Tenancy Bond and gives the landlord funds that can potentially be used in the event of any tenancy issues. The maximum bond amount that a landlord may ask for is 4 weeks’ rent.

It's important that a Tenancy Bond is held independently. New Zealand Tenancy Bonds must be lodged by the landlord with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment within 23 working days of being collected.

At the end of a tenancy, the landlord may claim for any breaches of the Tenancy Agreement such as damage caused to the property, non-payment of rent, removal of chattels or for cleaning purposes. If there are any disputes over how much of the bond should be refunded, either the landlord or the tenant can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal for mediation or, if necessary, a legal decision.
If there are no claims made by the landlord, the full amount of the Tenancy Bond will be refunded to the tenant.

The Tenancy Tribunal can help with any disagreements between landlords and tenants, or general Tenancy Agreement breaches. Commonly raised issues are Tenancy Bond repayment disputes, overdue rent payments, and property damage

The landlord will ultimately be responsible for the payment of any charges that are incurred on their property, regardless of whether the property is occupied or not.  These charges include property rates and council fee or fixed waste water charges.

The tenant is usually responsible for the payment of any charges that are incurred by their usage, such as electricity, gas, telephone and water usage charges (when the water supply to a property is metered and usage is recorded).

Terms surrounding the payment of these utilities must be mentioned in your Tenancy Agreement, if you are to pay these charges.

While the landlord is responsible for any insurance related to the rental property itself, this insurance will not normally cover your personal possessions. It is therefore highly advisable for you to take out your own contents insurance to cover theft or accidental damage.

New Zealand landlords (or property managers acting on their behalf) have the right to regularly inspect their property, but there are laws governing such visits:

  • A landlord must give between 48 hours and 14 days notice of any inspection
  • Rental inspections cannot be made more than once a month
  • Rental inspections must take place between the hours of 8am and 7pm

You should complete a property inspection with your landlord or property manager before you move in and document the findings in your Tenancy Agreement. This will document any existing home damage and help you to avoid any future disputes.

Your landlord must give you at least 24 hours' notice if they require access to your property to carry out maintenance and repairs - unless it is an emergency. If you require urgent repairs but cannot contact your landlord, you are entitled to contact a tradesperson yourself and pass on any reasonable costs.

You should report any rental property maintenance requirements to your landlord or property manager as soon as you notice them. Failure to notify your landlord or property manager of a serious maintenance issue may see you held responsible for further damage.

No. If you withhold rent you would be in breach of your Tenancy Agreement. Your rental payments are not tied in the Tenancy Agreement to any rental maintenance issues. Good landlords will endeavour to fix issues raised quickly.

The landlord has an obligation to keep the rental property in a reasonable state of repair and to comply with all New Zealand building, health and safety requirements. If you feel that your landlord is not meeting these obligations, you may raise a grievance with the Tenancy Tribunal. This step would normally be taken only after you have tried to resolve the issues with your landlord (and been unsuccessful).

You can have pets in your rental property as long as the rental property has suitable provision to do so, and you have approval from the landlord or property manager. This approval will normally be noted in your Tenancy Agreement. Living with your pet without prior approval will be a breach of your Tenancy Agreement.

Different termination rules apply for ongoing periodic tenancy termination and for fixed-term tenancy termination. These rules are explained below:
For a periodic tenancy:

  • In New Zealand, a tenant must give their landlord or property manager at least 21 days’ written notice that they wish to terminate their tenancy. Some landlords may allow a shorter notification period, but this should be noted in writing.
  • A landlord should generally give their tenant at least 90 days’ written notice of termination.
  • If the owner has an agreement to sell the property, or if they require it for themselves or a family member to live in, the required minimum tenancy termination notice period is reduced to only 42 days.

For a fixed-term tenancy:

  • At the end of the specified lease period, the tenancy will automatically become a periodic tenancy unless either the landlord or the tenant has given written notice that they do not want this to happen.
  • If you wish to break your Tenancy Agreement by leaving the property early, you will be required to pay the associated costs (these will be specified in your Tenancy Agreement) unless your landlord waives these.

There are several factors to consider when deciding on the type of rental property you want to rent.

  • Living in a rental house often requires more attention to the house exterior, fencing, backyard and gardens than an apartment. As a tenant, you are responsible for keeping these areas neat and tidy.
  • Rental houses may have more security requirements (locks on gates, alarm systems) to attend to than renting an apartment where many security features are centrally managed by the Body Corporate.
  • Renting an apartment requires you to comply with the Body Corporate rules concerning building access, parking, rubbish disposal and noise. It is important to familiarise yourself and your flatmates with the Body Corporate rules and regulations.

Houses generally have land attached - but you must maintain this. Apartments offer less living space and closer proximity to neighbours, but need reduced maintenance.

Some owners will rent their properties privately (directly to market), rather than using a registered real estate agent or property manager to do this. While this may mean there are no letting fees, there are also some disadvantages to taking private rentals:

  • Private rentals may not have the same level of professionalism and promptness with regards to maintenance and tenancy disputes.
  • Owners who rent their homes directly to tenants are not always as familiar with their legal obligations with regards to inspections, rent increases, notice periods and the like.
  • Without a real estate agent or property manager to act as an intermediary, you may experience less privacy and have a more difficult time settling any disputes due to an owner’s lack of objectivity.

Your local First National Real Estate office will help you to find a great rental. Our professional property managers and real estate agents are highly experienced and work with integrity and honesty.Contact First National Real Estatetoday.

Prospective holidaymakers should be careful when renting a bach online, as rental listings promoted on the internet can be a popular target for scammers.

Scammers can sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to trick unsuspecting people into giving up personal details or making payments. They may pose as owners or real estate agents and use the actual property address and photographs, often copied from real estate websites, in an effort to convince you they are genuine.

Here are some online renting guidelines to follow to help you avoid being scammed:

  • Watch out for obvious spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or pixilated photographs – scammers tend to operate from overseas and English may not be their first language.
  • If you don’t live in New Zealand, ask someone you trust to make local enquiries. There are reputable websites out there. In general, if a bach renting offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don’t rely on referrals or recommendations of others, unless you know the source of the referral or recommendation personally.
  • Never pay funds via a bank transfer unless you are sure who the recipient is. Avoid using non-bank payment systems such as Western Union, which scammers are well known to use. It could be very difficult to ever get your money back from these networks if there are issues.
  • If the owner or agent for the bach lives overseas, this is a warning sign that it could be a scam. Most New Zealand bach owners live in New Zealand. Ask for local telephone numbers and addresses and have these verified.
  • Search online for reviews of the owner or agent offering the holiday home for rent. The experiences of others can be very useful indicators.
  • Keep all written correspondence about the holiday home rental, including payment details and a copy of the listing itself.
  • Watch out for holiday homes being advertised at conspicuously cheap rental prices (unless at the last minute). This is a sure sign that the listing is a scam.
  • Never send money in order to be posted keys to a property. You should always be able to pick up the keys personally, or retrieve them from an agent. Many owners are happy to accept just a deposit up front when you book the accommodation and to receive the remainder when the keys are exchanged.

Some holiday home owners rent their holiday homes out themselves. Others rent their holiday homes out via agents. As a renter, your interests and personal details are better protected when you rent your holiday home through a licensed real estate agent. You also benefit from more choice of homes, because the real estate agents have exclusive listings that are not available through any other channel.

Whether you rent a bach or holiday home directly from the property owner or through a licensed agent, it's advisable to search for online reviews of the property. Make sure that the photos shown are legitimate and represent the current property conditions. If you are able to, you should physically inspect the property and ask as many questions as possible before signing any holiday home Rental Agreement.

All details concerning the holiday home rental should be put in writing.

There are a number of ways to find New Zealand rental properties. Many rental properties are listed on internet websites, including theFirst National Real Estatewebsite. If you don't have convenient internet access, you can also visit your local real estate agency branch, and ask to speak to the property rentals team.
Once you've found a potentially suitable property to rent, you will need to attend a viewing of the property to inspect it. Viewing times can usually be arranged through your real estate agent or via the landlord directly. If properties are expected to be popular, a single group viewing time may be advertised by the agent or landlord, which all potential tenants must attend.

If you don't have convenient internet access, you can also visit your local real estate agency branch and ask to speak to the property rentals team.

Once you've found a potentially suitable property to rent, you will need to attend a viewing of the property to inspect it. Viewing times can usually be arranged through your real estate agent or via the landlord directly. If properties are expected to be popular, a single group viewing time may be advertised by the agent or landlord, which all potential tenants must attend.

Services provided with the bach rental will differ from property to property. If there is anything that you are unsure of, contact the holiday home owner or agent before signing any written agreement. Things you may want to clarify include:

  • Does the owner have the right to enter the property while you are living there? If so under what circumstances?
  • Is the holiday home accommodation rated in accordance with any classification system (e.g. Tourism New Zealand’s Qualmark)?
  • Is the holiday home accommodation serviced, and if so how often and when?
  • Will the electricity be on when you arrive at the property? Is it included in the rental price, or does it operate on a coin meter basis or similar?
  • Is there anything in the property that cannot be used or are there any facilities that are shared with other properties / tenants?
  • Is the holiday home accommodation fully furnished including cutlery, bedding, and kitchen equipment?
  • How close is the bach or holiday home to local points of interest and transport?
  • If there are any disputes, how will these be settled? Does any formal dispute resolution system exist?
  • Will there be manuals and instructions for using appliances available in the property when you arrive?
  • Who do you call in the event of a problem or an emergency relating to the property?

When paying the rent or deposit to secure the holiday home, ensure that you receive a detailed receipt for the amount paid showing what the payment is for. Ask the agent or the landlord how and when your security deposit will be refunded to you.

Before moving into the holiday home, you should conduct an inspection of the property. In some cases the inspection will be carried out in the presence of the owner or agent. During the inspection you should note down any existing damage, the items contained within the property and note any missing or faulty appliances.

It's important to write your comments down and highlight the matter with the owner or agent prior to the commencement of your tenancy in order to protect your interests. This will help to avoid any disputes when you complete your stay.

You will be responsible for any damage to the property or its equipment, fixtures and fittings if it is caused through your negligence. You are not responsible for fair wear and tear of the items.

Some holiday rental accommodation is pet friendly, but check with the owner or real estate agent first about what is permissible on the premises. Most pet friendly holiday homes will ask you to bring your pet’s own bedding. Some holiday homes may additionally require you to keep your pet outside.

Holiday homes near the beach are in high demand during the summer in New Zealand, while alpine (ski) holiday homes will be popular during the winter and ski seasons. Here are some simple tips if you’re planning to rent a New Zealand bach during these peak seasons:

  • Availability will be much more limited during peak seasons, so plan ahead and book well in advance to make sure you secure your holiday home for the specific period you want.
  • Ask the owner or agent how far the bach or holiday home actually is from the sand and sea, or how difficult it is to get to the nearest ski field. Families with young children often prefer holiday homes right on the beach to avoid car rides or long walks.
  • Check whether your beach holiday home has outside lighting, a BBQ and outdoor furniture for dining - to maximise your enjoyment.
  • If booking an alpine holiday home, ask what kind of heating it has (gas or electric), and whether the power or gas required to run the heating is included in the hiring rental or not.

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