Renting a house in New Zealand

When you arrive in New Zealand it is a good idea initially to rent a home while you decide where you wish to live.

Since NZ has a high level of home ownership, the stock of rental housing is less extensive than in most other developed countries. Prices and quality vary and it is always advisable to visit a property personally before signing a Tenancy Agreement, also known as a lease. First appearances can be deceptive – make sure you check the basics.

Parts of NZ can be cold and houses that do not get a lot of direct sun may have problems with dampness during the winter months. Factors such as proximity to transport, shops and schools as well as the general feel of the neighbourhood also need to be taken into account.

Most rental properties are unfurnished, apart from a fuctional kitchen with hob or stove, and will have curtains and carpet. The landlord does not have to provide a heater so in some cases you may have to provide your own.

Demand for good quality rentals is high. It may take some time to find a suitable property and, when you do you will usually have to make a quick decision.

Newspapers have “to let” columns, especially on Wednesdays and Saturdays, a good place to start and many real estate agents also have a rental-portfolio.
Rental prices vary by region, town and suburb; on average a 3 bedroom home in Auckland will cost between $450 and $650 per week (depending on the suburb), in Wellington around $360-$500/week, in Christchurch $410-$470/week and in the rest of NZ between $250 and $300 per week.

If you arrive in New Zealand outside the holiday season, you may find holiday homes available for rent and most of those are furnished which might be a useful temporary option if your belongings have not arrived yet.

Homeowners who let out their property (landlords) usually ask for references; if possible, bring a reference in English from your landlord in your country of origine.

Most landlords require tenants to pay a bond that is generally equivalent to two or four weeks’ rent. The landlord will provide you with a Bond Lodgement Form that both you and the landlord are required to complete and sign. The landlord must deposit the form and your accompanying cheque for the bond with the Tenancy Services Centre within 23 working days of receiving it. A receipt will be sent to both you and your landlord. The bond will be refunded to you when you leave the property, unless you have not paid rent or have caused damage. When you move out, the landlord will inspect the property to make sure you have not caused damages. To recover your bond, complete a Bond Refund Form, signed by you and the landlord and send it to the Tenancy Services Centre. If you cannot reach agreement with the landlord over the return of your bond, contact Tenancy Services.