Renting Your First Home
When you first arrive in New Zealand, like most of us, you will almost certainly rent while you find your bearings. Renting in New Zealand is not always straight forward, almost two thirds of New Zealand’s population owns their own home, this often means rental stock is in short supply and the demand for quality properties is high.This is why many New Zealand rentals command a 5,6,7 or even 10% net annual return!
There are two types of tenancy agreement in New Zealand, periodic and fixed term.
Periodic is sometimes called month by month, though if you rent an apartment on a periodic lease you only have to give 21 days notice. If the landlord wants to cancel the agreement he must give you 90 days notice unless he or a family member is going to move in when he only needs to give you 42 days notice.
This is an ideal option if you want to rent a furnished place while you wait for furniture to arrive from overseas.
Fixed term tenancy is when both the tenant and the landlord agree on a duration for the tenancy. This can only be changed if both parties agree.
Taking a property on a fixed term can often give you extra negotiating power with your landlord, and is a good option once you know where you want to settle.
Whichever rental option you choose it is good to know New Zealand law favours the tenant.
When you find a property you are happy, you will usually be asked to pay a bond. In New Zealand this can be up to four weeks rent and must be put into a trust account with “Housing New Zealand” (a government body). Your landlord may also ask you to pay two weeks rent in advance.
In New Zealand we usually pay rent weekly.
Average rental cost:
Auckland (three bedroom home) $310.00 to $400.00 per week
Wellington (three bedroom home) $365.00 per week
Christchurch (three bedroom home) $285.00 per week
While these are average rental figures, most of us are not happy with an average house, so you can expect to pay a little more to get what you want.
New Zealand housing can be grouped into five basic categories:
Inner city apartments: These are growing in popularity amongst the younger Kiwi’s wanting to be close to work and the action without having to own a vehicle, fight the traffic or rely on public transport. The residences are usually small, one or two bedroom with one bathroom.
Inner city home: Unlike most of the developed world you can still find houses, or the New Zealand villa, close or in the city centre. These properties tend to be one story charming renovated traditional New Zealand properties; if convenience is a must then these represent a great opportunity.
Townhouse: As old areas in the cities have once again become popular more traditional buildings have made way for modern townhouses. These are often located in the best grammar school areas, within easy travel of the city centres and focus on providing convenient modern day living.
Lifestyle blocks: On the edge of many of New Zealand’s cities (bear in mind this may only be 20 minutes from the city centre) are areas of once farm land which have been developed into lifestyle blocks or mini estates, you can buy room for your horse, pool and tennis court at a price most British people cannot imagine.
Suburban house: The New Zealand suburban house is bigger than the majority of residential housing available in the UK. Starting at three bedrooms these house go up to five bedrooms and vary between 150 sqm and 400 sqm with most homes being in the range of 200-250 sqm. They normally have fenced front and back gardens with enough space for children and pets to run.
The Residential Tenancies Act (1986) regulates the letting and renting of homes and clearly sets out the basic rights and obligations of landlords and tenants. In essence the landlord guarantees the tenant undisturbed use of the property. The tenant on the other hand undertakes to pay the rent on time and to return the property in the same condition at the end of the period as it was in at the start of the tenancy period, normal wear and tear excluded.
The principles of the contract are basically the same as in UK.