TENANTS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


What information will a Landlord need to rent me a property?

What is an "Address for Service"?

Do I have to sign a tenancy agreement?

What happens with a fixed term tenancy?

 What is a Short Term Trial Fixed Term Tenancy?

What happens if I miss a rent payment?

What is a Bond and what is it for?

What can I do to ensure that I get my bond back?

What is a Letting Fee?

I have a dog

I want to get a dog

What if my pet is not a cat or dog?

Is the rent negotiable?

What will it cost to move in?

Do I get interest from the Landlord on my bond?

Is GST payable on rent?

How often can rent be increased?

Do I need insurance?

How should my Landlord treat me?

Can I hold back rent if my property needs repairs?

Who can inspect my property?

Can my property be sold?

Can the owners move back into the property I am renting?

Can I sub-let the property?

I want to move out?

Do I have to allow access to prospective tenants if I have given notice to quit?

What happens with my keys when I leave?

What happens with my bond when I leave?

Will the landlord require a credit check?

What is a Reasonable Rental?

Do I have to gain permission to make changes to the property?

Will the Landlord reimburse me for any maintenance I provide to the property?

How do I go about getting repairs done to the property?

What happens if I leave belongings behind when I move?

What happens if I abandon my rental home?

What happens if my Landlord goes overseas?

This page is designed to help less experienced tenants by answering some of the more frequently asked questions.


This page has been prepared using the best information available to us, but if you have any doubts on any matter we suggest you contact Tenancy Services for a definitive ruling. They may be contacted via freephone number 0800 836-262


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What information will a Landlord need to rent me a property? 


The landlord will need sufficient information to make a judgement on whether to allow you control of a very valuable asset. This normally includes your full name and present address, your date of birth, information that will enable the landlord to ascertain you are who you say you are, the names and contacts of referees (prior landlords are best). Each landlord will seek different levels of information.

See Stirling Real Estate's rental application form here.


 

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What is an "Address for Service"?


This is an address that legal notices can be sent to, away from the rental address. Landlords and tenants can use an email address, P O Box number, fax number or alternate address.


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Do I have to sign a tenancy agreement? 


If no tenancy agreement is signed then the terms of the Residential Tenacies Act will detail the tenancy. However this is most unusual, and we would not rent without a signed agreement. This protects the interests of both parties


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What happens if I miss a rent payment?


If you miss a rent payment you should contact your landlord immediately.  Explain the circumstances and how you propose to rectify the situation.  If your rentals fall into arrears and the landlord cannot see the situation rectified, you may find he applies to the Tenancy Tribunal for action to be taken.


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What is a Bond and what is it for?


A bond is an amount of money held to cover damage done by the tenant or tenants family, guests etc) during the term of the tenancy, beyond what is considered fair wear and tear.  The maximum bond a landlord is entitled to request is up to the equivalent of four weeks rent.

The Bond is held by the Tenancy Services Division of Housing New Zealand (a government department).  It is illegal for a landlord to hold this payment in his/her own account.


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What can I do to ensure that I get my bond back?


How quickly and how much of your bond is refunded is largely in your own hands, so you should attend to the following very carefully:-


Pay your rent in full up to the date of termination.


All keys must be returned to the landlord promptly.


A bond inspection will be carried out by the landlord. They will not do this until you have fully vacated and returned the keys.


You must leave the property in a clean and tidy condition with attention being paid to the following items:-

Kitchen, bathroom(s), toilet(s) and laundry cleaned and free of mould.

Stove cleaned inside and out.

Floors washed and/or polished where applicable.

All rooms vacuumed and dusted including skirting boards and architraves.

Carpets cleaned as above.

Cupboards empty and clean.

Windows, windowsills and frames cleaned inside and out.

Light bulbs and fittings working.

Exterior cleaned and washed down.

               

Damage caused during your tenancy must be repaired. This could include holes in walls, ripped wallpaper, broken windows, mirrors, light bulbs, light shades.


All rubbish and any of your belongings both inside and outside must be removed from the property.


Garage(s) and carport(s) must be clean and empty.


Lawns and gardens must be in a neat and tidy state.


Make sure you have your power/gas meter read on the date you vacate and your account at this property closed, otherwise the utility companies will charge you for any further use.  Close or transfer your telephone account.


DO NOT arrange disconnection of any services otherwise reconnection charges will be deducted from your bond refund.


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What is a Letting Fee?


A Letting Fee is an administration fee charged by the person arranging the tenancy.  The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2010 states that Real Estate Companies and lawyers and property managers are permitted to charge a Letting Fee.


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What happens with a fixed term tenancy? 


If you have taken a fixed term tenancy you cannot be forced to take out another on expiry,  but may elect to go onto a periodic tenancy or extend your fixed term tenancy with the agreement of both yourself and your landlord.

The advantage of a fixed term tenancy for the tenant is there is security of tenure (meaning the landlord cannot regain possession of the property unless you fail to meet your obligations, and then only with the Tenancy Tribunals consent). There is also a certainty for both parties about the rent during the term of the fixed term agreement, as it cannot be changed, unless the agreement has a clause specifically stating to the contrary. Fixed term tenancies will revert to a periodic tenancy on the expiry of the fixed term unless the tenant or Landlord gives the required notice.


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What is a Short Term Trial Fixed Term Tenancy?


Previously a rental property owner could take a new tenant on under a short term fixed tenancy, essentially as a trial period. The Tenancy Tribunal is able to over-rule trial tenancies of less than 90 days duration.


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I have a dog


You will find it very difficult to rent with a dog. Most landlords are becoming less inclined to allow a dog because of the potential for damage, and the irresponsible attitude of some dog owners in the past.

You will almost certainly need a reference for the dog from your existing landlord (or real estate agency if you have just sold your property), and may be faced with an increased bond requirement. You may also be asked to sign a declaration that damage caused by the dog  will be met by you, the tenant, even if in excess of the bond amount.


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I want to get a dog


Don't. It will make renting very difficult, if not impossible.


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What if my pet is not a cat or dog?


Many landlords will consider allowing a pet of a non-destructive nature.  It pays to tell the prospective landlord what pet(s) you have so there is no misunderstanding.


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Is the rent negotiable?


Rents, like all goods and services, can sometimes be flexibly priced. If rental property is in short supply then you would not expect to be able to negotiate the rent. If you are looking to stay for an extended time, or the Landlord assesses you as an outstanding tenant, then a negotiation may succeed.


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What will it cost to move in? 


Most Landlord require two weeks rent to be paid in advance, together with two weeks rent as bond (Sometimes other arrangements may be requested).The Real Estate agency can charge a letting fee of one weeks' rent plus GST.


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Do I get interest from the Landlord on my bond? 


No. The bond is forwarded to Tenancy Services, a government agency, who hold and disburse tenants' bonds. Tenancy Services does not pay interest to either the tenant or the owner of the property.


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Is GST payable on rent?


No. GST is not payable on any residential rental. GST would be charged on a letting fee, if this fee is payable.


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How often can rent be increased?


The Residential Tenancies Act is very specific about rental increases. Rent cannot be increased more than once in every 180 day period, and that 60 days written notice of any increase must be given to the tenant.

In addition rent cannot be increased within the first 180 days of a tenancy agreement, unless specific provision is made otherwise in your tenancy agreement.


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Do I need insurance?


We strongly recommend you have contents insurance. Please seek independent  advice to assess your insurance requirements. It is the Landlords responsibility to arrange insurance cover for the building and any of their chattels.


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How should my Landlord treat me?


Your Landlord is expected to treat you fairly. If there are unresolved issues (after you and the landlord have discussed these) then contact the Tenancy Services Division (0800 836 262) for free advice. The Residential Tenancies Act provides for both parties to a tenancy to seek resolution to disputes via an independent tenancy mediator. This is an inexpensive process and is available to all landlords and tenants of residential property.


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Can I hold back rent if my property needs repairs?


No. The Residential Tenancies Act does not allow for this.  See the foregoing answer regarding how your landlord should treat you.


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Who can inspect my property?


The Residential Tenancies Act specifies that prospective buyers, prospective tenants (after you have given notice to vacate) and the landlord or property manager have certain rights to inspect your property. The Act is quite specific about the period of notice and the reasons that must be given for anyone to enter the property you are leasing.

The general rule is that 48 hours notice must be given prior to entering a property for purposes of inspection, and that any such inspection must be carried out between the hours of 8am and 7pm.

The Residential Tenancies Act provides for the quiet enjoyment of a property by tenants.


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Can my property be sold? 


Yes. If your property is put on the market you must be given written notice of this. If your property is sold and the purchaser does not wish you to remain as a tenant in the property because they wish to occupy it you must be given 42 days written notice of this. If the landlord wants to change tenants then you are entitled to 90 days notice. If you have a fixed term tenancy then the purchaser cannot put you out, and must wait until the end of the tenancy term to obtain possession of the property.


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Can the owners move back into the property I am renting?


The Residential Tenancies Act provides that where a landlord wishes to use the property for their own use, or for the use of their family, they must provide a tenant 42 days written notice of this. If you have a fixed term tenancy then the owner cannot ask you to vacate until the end of your term.


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Can I sub-let my property?


No. This is for the protection of both tenants and landlords.


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I want to move out?


If you are not a fixed term tenant you must provide 21 days notice in writing of your intention to vacate. This is clearly stated in The Residential Tenancies Act and is intended to protect the interests of both parties to a tenancy agreement.

If you have a fixed term tenancy and wish to vacate prior to the end of your tenancy then you can only vacate with the landlords consent.


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Do I have to allow access to prospective tenants if I have given notice to quit?


A landlord or their representative may enter your property with your prior consent to show the premises to prospective tenants (or purchasers). Such consent may not be unreasonably withheld.


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What happens with my keys when I leave? 


All keys and remote controls must be returned to your landlord or Property Manager.


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What happens with my bond when I leave?


When you move out your landlord will conduct a final inspection to ensure that the property has been left in a good condition.

Provided that all keys have been returned and all rent due has been paid your landlord will instruct Tenancy Services to refund the bond to you. If there is unpaid rent, or damage to be repaired, then this needs to be taken into consideration when calculating your Bond refund.


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Will the landlord require a credit check?


Most prudent landlords will check prospective tenants' creditworthiness. This is done to ensure that tenants do not have a history of defaulting on their obligations. Many landlords will not be concerned about small debts.


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What is a Reasonable Rental?


You need to research rentals in your taret area. We provide that facility. Click here.


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Do I have to gain permission to make changes to the property?


You need to gain the Landlords permission (we recommend in writing) prior to undertaking work.  You need to know whether the landlord will reimburse, what standard of work is expected, and whether any of the changes are removable by you at tenancy end (such as burglar alarm).  You are normally required to keep grounds tidy, and if you are to plant annuals this is not normally a problem.


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Will the Landlord reimburse me for any maintenance I provide to the property?


You should always discuss this with your Landlord prior to undertaking repairs, so the arrangements are agreed prior to doing work.


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How do I go about getting repairs done to the property?


If repairs are required advise your landlord (we recommend in writing) detailing the repairs needed, and why.  Please note you are not allowed to withhold rent payment to ‘encourage’ your landlord to undertake repairs.

If repairs you believe should be done are not affected within a reasonable time you may serve a notice on the landlord requiring the repairs to be effected with 10 days.  If no action, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a hearing.


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What happens if I leave belongings behind when I move?


As provided in the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2010 tenant’s goods left at the premises on termination of the tenancy (abandoned goods) can be disposed of in the following order;


* foodstuffs and other perishables can be disposed of;


* with other goods the landlord must make reasonable efforts to contact the previous tenant and come to an agreement upon a period within which the tenant can collect the goods;


* if unable to contact the tenant, agree on a period with the tenant or if the tenant fails to collect the goods within the agreed period the landlord may remove them to safe storage and apply to the tribunal for a disposal order. Or he or she can get a market assessment of the goods, and if the market assessment value is less than the cost of storing, transporting and selling them then the landlord may immediately dispose of the goods. If the market assessment is greater than the cost of storage, transporting and selling them, the landlord must secure the goods for not less than 35 days and after that the goods can be sold for a reasonable market price (by auction or private treaty) with personal documents surrendered to the police. The landlord can then apply to the tribunal for an order specifying the amount owing to the landlord from the tenancy from the sale proceeds. The landlord is not liable in respect of the goods sold nor can the ex-tenant claim them back from the purchaser.


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What happens if I abandon my rental home?


Goods left are handled as above. Additionally, you may be liable to costs and a fine of up to $1,000 if rent and costs are outstanding when the property is abandoned.


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What happens if my Landlord goes overseas?


if a landlord is going to be overseas for more than 21 consecutive days, a New Zealand based agent must be appointed.


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