Starting A Tenancy: A Guide for Tenants

April 5, 2017

If you’ve never rented a property before, you may be wondering where to start. By following the process recommended by Tenancy Services, you can find a great property and enjoy living in it happily for many years. We have written today’s post to break down the process so it’s easy to understand for anyone who is getting ready to rent a property for the first time.

1. Find a suitable flat or house

First things first – it’s time to find your new home! Depending on your location, there may be a surplus or a shortage of rental properties. While rental properties in Christchurch were in high demand after the earthquake, the market is opening up again now that people are moving back into their homes. This means that if you’re looking for a property in the area, you’ll have more of a choice than you would have had two years ago.

 

Many people look for rental properties on TradeMe.co.nz or realestate.co.nz. These are great places to start because of the large number of properties listed. Browse through the listings to get an idea of prices in your area. We also recommend checking out local property management agencies, like First Avenue Property. The properties that area listed with agencies tend to be of very high quality and are usually well maintained. This way you’ll have the advantage of working with a property manager if you choose to go this route.

 

2. Make a shortlist and visit your chosen properties

You should start narrowing down your options until you have a handful of properties that appeal to you. Property listings will include important details such as the number of bedrooms, location and type of tenancy. Use this information to determine which properties would suit you and then contact the landlords or property managers to set up your viewing appointments.

 

3. Ask the right questions

Ideally you’ll be able to view 3 – 5 properties that appeal to you. While viewing the properties, be sure to ask the right questions so you can make an informed decision about your new home. At a minimum, you should ask:

 

  • Is the tenancy fixed-term or periodic?
  • When can I move into the property?
  • How much bond do you require?
  • Is the property furnished? What appliances are included? It’s important to know if you’ll be on the hook to purchase big items such as a washing machine or refrigerator.
  • What type of parking is available? Is there access to public transportation nearby?
  • Who is responsible for grounds maintenance, such as mowing the grass? If gardens are shared, what type of access is available?
  • Is the property energy efficient and what type of insulation has been installed?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • If you plan to share the property with flatmates, you’ll need to ask if a separate flat or house sharing agreement is required.

 

4. Choose a rental property and submit a pre-tenancy application

After viewing a few properties, you will hopefully find at least one that you’d like to live in. The next step is to submit a tenancy application. Be prepared to provide the following:

 

  • Contact details
  • Contact info of previous landlords, if applicable
  • Personal references
  • Consent to a credit and reference check
  • A copy of photo identification

 

If you’re not working with a property manager or don’t personally know the landlord, it’s a good idea to ask the landlord for references, too.

 

5. Sign your tenancy agreement

If everything goes ok with your application, your new landlord will contact you and ask you to complete a tenancy agreement to formalise your acceptance of the property. There are a few things you should do before signing the agreement:

 

  • Meet or contact the landlord at the property to discuss the terms of the tenancy. For example, you’ll need to know how and when to pay rent, who is responsible for grounds maintenance, when you can move into the property, when and how property inspections will occur, repairs and maintenance procedures etc. All of these items should be documented in your tenancy agreement.
  • Perform a property inspection together so you are on the same page about the condition of the property upon move in. This is also your chance to request that any maintenance issues be addressed before you move in.
  • Ask the landlord how you can reach him/her if an issue arises. Be sure to save your landlord’s phone number so you can reach him/her quickly in the event of an emergency.

 

6. Make first rental payment & lodge your bond

You and your new landlord will discuss how much rent you will pay before moving in and the amount of your bond. Landlords in New Zealand are legally entitled to ask for up to four weeks of rent for the bond. Once you have decided on the amount, you will pay it in cash or by bank transfer as agreed upon by you and the landlord. You should be given a receipt for this payment if the payment is made in person.

 

The landlord is legally required to lodge your bond with Tenancy Services, who will hold this money until the end of your tenancy. About two weeks after your landlord lodges your bond, you will receive a letter from Tenancy Services confirming the lodgement. If you do not receive a letter, be sure to follow up with your landlord.

 

7. Understand your responsibilities as a tenant

Landlords and tenants both have responsibilities towards maintaining a healthy relationship. Tenant responsibilities include:

 

  • Paying rent on time
  • Maintaining a clean and tidy property
  • Promptly advising your landlord if maintenance or repairs are needed
  • Arrange power, gas, broadband etc. before move in date

 

Your landlord’s responsibilities include:

 

  • Ensuring that the property remains in a safe and usable condition
  • Allowing you “quiet enjoyment” of the premises
  • Responding to maintenance and repair issues promptly
  • Informing you if they plan to sell the property
  • Providing you with an alternate contact if they will be out of the country for more than 3 weeks
  • Providing you with a thorough ingoing inspection which helps to protect your bond

8. Move into your property!

The big day is finally here. If you have followed the process outlined in this article, then there is nothing left for you to do except enjoy your new home and keep it clean and tidy.

Consider working with a property manager

It might seem like a lot of work, but the process we have discussed today helps ensure that you will be able to enjoy your rental property and maintain a good relationship with your landlord. Another way to ensure a hassle-free tenancy is to rent through a property management company like First Avenue Property. This eliminates the unknowns that come with renting from a landlord who you have found online. You can expect far fewer problems when you work with a property manager. To get started, take look at our rental property listings today!

 

Photos

For Rent Sign by Mark Moz, CC BY 2.0

 

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