The rent you pay will be influenced by:
- The area the house is in. Areas where wealthy people live, with well-regarded schools, command high rent prices. Areas where poorer people live, and the schools are less well-regarded, command lower rents.
- The condition the house is in.
If the kitchen fittings, bathroom fittings and carpets are a bit tired and worn looking you should pay a lower rent.
- The size of the flat or house.
As you would expect, bigger costs more.
Most New Zealand homes will be described as “apartments”, “units”, “houses”, or “townhouses”.
- An apartment is likely to be a home with other homes above and/or below it in a block.
- A “unit or flat” is likely to be a semi-detached house or a terraced / row house.
- A “house” is likely to be a detached / standalone house.
- A “townhouse” is likely to be a detached / stand-alone house or it might be attached to another house. Townhouses are usually reasonably modern and have smaller gardens than “houses”.
The prices we quote in the price guides are for unfurnished homes. The vast majority of homes for rent in New Zealand are unfurnished. (Unfurnished homes will be carpeted, have some form of heating and have curtains/drapes and a cooker.)
There are two common types of rental contract – the fixed term tenancy and the periodic tenancy.
The Fixed Term Tenancy
When you sign a fixed term tenancy, you agree to rent the property for a fixed length of time – say six months or a year. The advantage of a fixed tenancy is that the rent cannot be increased unless there is a clause in the lease – you should make sure there isn’t.
The Periodic Tenancy
A periodic tenancy is the most common type of tenancy and has no fixed timescale. To end it you must give three weeks notice to the landlord – as an extreme example, the tenancy could last for as little as three weeks if you give notice to quit on the same day as you move in. Or it could last for years. The landlord needs to give you six weeks notice to end your tenancy.
Your landlord needs to give you 60 days notice of a rent increase. Since you can leave after giving him 21 days notice, you have plenty of time to leave if you want to before the rent goes up. In practice, rent increases are rare for sitting tenants. Your rent will probably go up only if you are a tenant for more than a year.
Periodic is Best
As a new immigrant, it’s best to keep your options open. It’s better if you only need to give 21 days notice before moving to another house / district / city than having to wait for several months.
If any landlord should insist on a long, fixed-term tenancy, it would be a good idea to look for another house to rent.
After you have signed the tenancy agreement, you will need to hand over money. Lots of money. This consists of:
- Agency Fee. If you found the house using a real estate agent you will pay them a fee. They usually charge you a sum of money equal to one week’s rent.
- The bond. A landlord can ask you to pay up to four weeks rent as bond. Two weeks rent is more normal. By law, the landlord has to deposit your bond with the Bond Centre at the Ministry of Housing. He has 23 days to do this. Receipts are sent to both you and the landlord. Put your receipt somewhere safe! After you have moved out, you need your receipt to claim your money back from the Bond Centre. (You will get all your bond money back, provided you don’t damage the house you are renting.)
- Advance Rent. Rent is usually paid fortnightly. The landlord may ask for up to two weeks’ rent in advance.
Adding it all up.
Let’s say you’re found a flat to rent for $350 per week. What might you have to pay up front?
Adding it all up
|Bond – Assume max. bond of 4 weeks’ rent||$1,400|
|Rent in advance||$700|
So it might cost you as much as $2,450 before you can move your $350 per week rental. Be prepared for this cost.
Alternatively, if you find a privately advertised rental in a newspaper, or online you will save on the agency fee. It may also be possible to negotiate better terms with a private landlord.