If you’re renting for the first time, make sure you enter an agreement that works for you. Find out what else you should know as a new tenant.
Finding the right property
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.
A new tenant’s checklist will help you choose the rental property that’s best for you, your budget and your lifestyle.
Choose a landlord that meets their responsibilities
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.
While viewing the property, ask the landlord about recent maintenance or repairs that have been done. This will give you an idea of how reliable the landlord is at fixing problems.
Search for Tenancy Tribunal orders (external link) on the Ministry of Justice website to find out if the landlord’s been involved in disputes in the past.
If you’re in any doubt about the landlord being a good landlord, look somewhere else.
Landlords can’t discriminate against you
Landlords can’t decide to not rent to you or to end your tenancy, if their reasons breach the Human Rights Act.
Signing the tenancy agreement
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.
Inspect the property with your landlord and record the condition and any damage. This is a good time to ask any questions you have about the property. To get the most out of renting, you need to be prepared to talk with your landlord. By raising any issues straight away, you can help prevent problems later on.
Paying rent and bond
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:
- four weeks’ rent as bond ($1,000) and
- two weeks’ rent in advance ($500).
Insurance, bills and other details
Consider getting contents insurance that includes personal liability. This will protect your belongings and protect you in certain situations.
You’ll need to get services connected to the property, such as electricity, gas, internet and phone. If you’re paying the landlord for water charges, record the water meter reading at the start of the tenancy on the property inspection report and in the tenancy agreement.
Make sure you have a set of keys, find out when rubbish and recycling is collected and get your mail redirected.
It’s important for both landlords and tenants to keep accurate receipts and records related to the tenancy. These can help clear up any issues. Landlords must also keep records for tax purposes.