It’s not always easy to find a flat or house, especially one that meets all your needs. To help you find the right property, you could:
- Search on the internet
- Look in the ‘To let’ column in the classifieds section of your local newspaper. In most areas, the best days to look are Wednesdays and Saturdays
- Place an ad in the paper to say you’re looking for a property
- Ask people you know if they know someone who’s looking for tenants
- Post notices locally. This could be at your local dairy, community noticeboard, supermarket, polytechnic, university or wānanga, or local social media pages
- Ask at real estate agents and property management companies.
It’s important to get along with your landlord so that you’re comfortable raising any issues. Before you agree to rent from them, find out as much as you can about them. Search for Tenancy Tribunal orders on the Ministry of Justice website to find out if the landlord’s been involved in disputes in the past.
Discrimination is unlawful under the tenancy law when it breaches the Human Rights Act. When providing accommodation, it is against the law to choose tenants based on:
- religious or ethical beliefs
- race or colour
- nationality, ethnicity, origin or citizenship
- physical or mental disability or illness
- political opinion
- employment status eg, if unemployed or on a benefit
- marital and family status – including any responsibilities for dependents
- sexual orientation.
Read the tenancy agreement carefully (including the terms and any conditions) before you sign it. Only sign a tenancy agreement when you’re sure you want the property. Keep a signed copy of the agreement and any receipts in a safe place. Make sure you have the landlord’s contact details. If you want, you can ask them to complete a contact details form.
- Furniture: many flats are unfurnished so be prepared to buy items such as a bed, desk, couch, whiteware, cutlery and appliances.
- Bond – Usually 4 weeks rent. You’ll get the bond payment refunded at the end of your tenancy, provided you leave the place in good condition. To help avoid hassles at the end of a tenancy, bonds are held by MBIE, not the landlord.
- Connection fees: You may need to pay a bond and/or a connection fee to connect your power, phone and internet.
Paying Rent – you may pay this weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on the terms of your lease. When you first rent a place you’ll need to pay two weeks’ rent in advance as well as a fee if you use an agent (letting fees are normally one week’s rent plus GST). A landlord can only ask for two weeks rent in advance.
The landlord pays local council taxes like rates.
- You, the tenant, pay day-to-day running costs like electricity or gas.
- Some homes have water meters, in which case tenants must also pay for the water they use.
- Insurance: If you’re renting, the landlord is responsible for insuring the building. You are responsible for getting cover for your own possessions and liability for any damage they may cause to the property.
- When you are renting you will need to pay for all your services like power, gas, phone, internet and tv.
Rent is what you pay to the landlord for the right to live in a property. You will normally pay either weekly or fortnightly. The bond can be up to four weeks’ rent. It is held by Tenancy Services for the length of the tenancy. If you look after the property and pay your rent you should get the bond refunded at the end of the tenancy.
It’s important to work out what you can afford before renting a property. For example, if your weekly rent is $250 you may need to pay upfront costs of:
- our weeks’ rent as bond ($1,000) and
- two weeks’ rent in advance ($500).
If you have signed a tenancy agreement with a landlord, you’re a tenant. You’re legally responsible for the place. Tenants are jointly responsible for all the rent and any damage, not just their own share.
If someone else signs the tenancy agreement but lets you share the flat, you are a flatmate. Flatmates live in the property but are not part of the tenancy agreement.
Flatmates are not responsible to the landlord for the rent and the state of the property. They are responsible to the tenant for their share of the rent.
Landlords should ask potential tenants to complete a pre-tenancy application form. This form includes important information that helps them choose a tenant. Information often asked for includes:
- their name and contact details
- where they’re living now and their renting history
- ID details
- references you can contact to find out more about them.
Many landlords will also want to do a credit check. You will need to give permission before they do a check. A credit check report will usually give the following information:
- full name and date of birth
- any known aliases
- information about their occupation and employer
- their involvement in payment defaults, collection actions, court judgements, bankruptcies or other public notices information
- other recent addresses
- cross-references to other credit enquiries made against them
- their credit rating.
Property inspections are important. Tenants and landlords should check the property together at the start of a tenancy to avoid problems later on. During the inspection it’s a good idea to take photos. This can help show the condition of the property. Building a good relationship is important during the property inspection. Inspecting the rental together shows that everyone wants to help and be honest. This is also a great chance to ask questions or mention any maintenance problems. Both the landlord and tenant(s) should sign, date, and keep a copy of the property inspection report.