Renting: Frequently asked questions

Find some answers to commonly asked questions about renting in New Zealand and through Barfoot & Thompson.

What are the costs and fees associated with renting?

Letting fee

When renting through a real estate agent, the tenant is responsible for paying a letting fee, which is usually a sum equivalent to one week's rent + GST.

Other fees

Tenants will be required to pay up to two week's rent in advance plus a bond of up to the equivalent of four weeks rent. The landlord can only legally claim up to four weeks bond.

Can the landlord insist that tenants pay four weeks rent in advance?

The Residential Tenancies Act does not permit a landlord to require more than two weeks rent in advance. However, tenants can 'offer' to pay more, say calendar monthly.

What happens to my bond?

The bond is lodged with Tenancy Services (part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) who hold it in trust.

The landlord may make a claim against the bond for any of the following reasons - rent arrears, damages, outstanding water accounts, cleaning, lawns and gardens, rubbish removal.

If the tenants and the landlord cannot agree on the amount being claimed, either of them may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the matter. More information on tenancy bonds.

What's the difference between a fixed term and periodic tenancy?

Fixed term

Fixed term tenancies have a start date and an end date and cannot be terminated by either party giving notice, unless both parties agree to terminate sooner, or either party can prove hardship to the Tenancy Tribunal.

Periodic

A periodic tenancy can be terminated by notice. 

Notice period by tenants for a periodic tenancy

Tenants are required to provide the landlord with at least 21 days written notice.

Notice period by landlords for a periodic tenancy

The landlord must provide tenants with at least 90 days written notice to end the tenancy, except in certain circumstances, in which case they can give at least 42 days written notice.

A landlord can give at least 42 days notice when:

  • The property has been sold with vacant possession
  • The owner or a member of the owner's family is going to live in the property
  • The property is normally used as employee accommodation and is needed again for that purpose (and the fact that this might happen was stated in the tenancy agreement)
If tenants wish to vacate before either the 42 or 90 days it is important to know that they are still required to provide the landlord with 21 days notice.

Can the rent be increased during a tenancy?

Fixed term tenancy

Yes, but only if the Tenancy Agreement allows for it.

Periodic tenancy

Yes

How much notice does the landlord have to give when increasing rent?

For both fixed term and periodic tenancies of the above the landlord must provide tenants with at least 60 days notice of the increase. The rent cannot be increased within 180 days after the date the last increase took place or from the start date of the tenancy.

Can the landlord sell the property if I have a fixed term tenancy?

Yes, the landlord has the right to list and sell their property regardless of the term of the tenancy. However tenants will be entitled to remain in the property for the duration of the fixed term. This term may be extended if tenants and the new landlord agree.

Can a tenant have flatmates?

Yes, as long as the number of people in the property does not exceed that stipulated on the Tenancy Agreement.

A flatmate is not legally responsible for the tenancy. The only persons who are liable are those who are specifically named and have signed the Tenancy Agreement.

It is common practice for more than one person living in a property to sign the Tenancy Agreement. This makes them all jointly and severally liable for meeting the terms of the agreement.

What about subleasing?

Barfoot & Thompson Tenancy Agreements do not permit subletting or assigning of a tenancy.

What happens if one or more of the named tenants on a periodic tenancy move out during the tenancy?

If any one of those named on the Tenancy Agreement move out of the property this effectively brings the tenancy to an end, but if the remaining tenants wish to continue with the tenancy, they can contact their property manager to discuss what options are available.

If one of the flatmates leaves, can the tenants change the locks?

Not without the consent of the landlord. If it is agreed then tenants are obliged to provide their landlord with a set of the new keys.

When can the landlord or agent enter the property? How much notice am I entitled to?

Notice for access varies as follows:

  • If tenants agree, the landlord can enter the property immediately
  • For the purpose of carrying out a routine inspection - 48 hours.
  • For the purpose of carrying out necessary repairs or maintenance - 24 hours
  • For the purpose of showing the property to prospective tenants, purchasers or a registered valuer - by consent (which cannot be unreasonably withheld).

What happens if something in the property needs to be fixed?

It is the tenants' responsibility to notify the landlord as soon as possible of any repairs or maintenance required so they can take the necessary action.

Need more information about renting?

If you've still got questions, contact one of our property managers for help.