What You Didn’t Know About Renting

Do you know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant or a landlord?

Tenants who caused a fire by leaving oil unattended on a stove in 2009 have been let off the hook for the property damage after a landmark decision by the Court of Appeal ruled they could not be held financially responsible.

A Christchurch property manager is concerned the rulings could lead to higher insurance premiums pushing up rents, or landlords excluding risky tenants such as families with children. Insurance companies might also insist landlords take only insured tenants.

Good tenants will end paying the price for what the bad ones do, he says.

I thought I knew my rights and responsibilities as a tenant after years of signing rental agreements, but I was surprised by a few points I spotted in this advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

What if the house you’re renting goes up for sale? Or your landlord moves overseas? What if your property needs extensive repairs and you need to put the rent up to cover them?

Read up on your rights to make sure you don’t end up with the rough end of the renting stick.

The Things You Didn’t Know To Ask About Renting

I’m renting a house that’s for sale and the real estate agents want to keep bringing people through. Do I have to let them in?

The landlord needs to gain your permission to show real estate agents or prospective buyers through the house, and they have to visit at a reasonable hour. You can only refuse your landlord entry on reasonable grounds, which can include a real estate agent coming too often.

If the landlord wants to hold an open home at the house, they have to discuss this with you to agree on some specific times and dates. You don’t have to agree to an open home and can, for example, insist that agents and prospective buyers only visit by appointment.

More information about what your rights are if your landlord is planning on selling the property you rent is on the Tenancy Services website.


I’m a landlord and I’m going to be overseas for a while – what do I need to do? 

If you own a rental property in New Zealand and will be out of the country for more than 21 consecutive days then by law you must appoint an agent who can act on your behalf.

This means that if the tenant has any issues they would normally bring up with you (the landlord), they will need to contact your agent (e.g. if your tenant needs to ask for repairs to be done).

You can appoint anyone to be your agent, but preferably it should be someone who is fully aware of, and able to fulfil, their responsibilities.

Some landlords choose to engage a professional property manager for this role; others appoint a friend or family member.

Once you have appointed an agent, you’ll need to:

  • advise your tenants about who the agent is and how they can contact the agent
  • fill out a change of landlord form for MBIE’s Tenancy Services
  • contact the Bond Centre and ask them to update their records with your agent’s name. This means that if your tenant leaves while you are overseas (and they have left the property in the same condition as when they moved in), they can still get their bond back.

When you return to New Zealand you’ll need to tell your tenant and Tenancy Services that you are back and taking over from your agent.


The place I’m renting needs lots of repairs. My landlord says if they get repairs done they’ll put my rent up to cover the costs. Can they do this? 

Your landlord is obliged to keep the rental property in a reasonable state of repair, which means ensuring that any necessary repairs are completed.

Your landlord is entitled to review your rent every 180 days – if they wish to increase your rent, they have to give you a minimum amount of notice.

If you have a fixed tenancy however, then your landlord can’t change the rent unless it is specifically allowed for in the tenancy agreement. More information about this is on the Citizen Advice Bureau’s Paying Rent page.


Know Your Rights And Responsibilities: Tenants

What are my rights as a tenant?

You have a right to enjoy your property privately, undisturbed by others.

The landlord has to respect your peace and privacy. If they don’t, the Tenancy Tribunal can fine your landlord. You also have rights regarding rentbondproperty inspections and other renting costs.


What are my obligations and responsibilities as a tenant? 

Unless the landlord agrees in writing to pay for them, you are obliged to pay the power, gas, telephone charges.

You must also pay water usage charges if:

  • the water supplier charges separately for the water, and
  • there is a meter to measure how much water was used

Note that the landlord is responsible for paying any fixed water charges.

During your tenancy, you must not:

  • intentionally or carelessly damage the premises
  • use the premises for anything illegal
  • disturb the neighbours
  • have more people living in the premises than are specified in the agreement
  • change the locks, attach fixtures or make any renovations, alterations or additions to the premises unless outlined in the agreement or allowed with written permission from the landlord

As a tenant you are responsible for:

  • paying the rent on time
  • making sure the house or flat is used mainly for living purposes
  • keeping the house or flat reasonably clean and tidy
  • being a good neighbour (i.e. not disturbing your neighbours or other tenants)
  • letting the landlord know as soon as damage is discovered or repairs are needed
  • leaving when the tenancy comes to an end
  • removing  all your personal items from the house or flat when you leave
  • leaving the house or flat reasonably tidy, and remove all rubbish at the end of the tenancy
  • returning the keys to the landlord at the end of the tenancy
  • leaving any personal items or pieces of furniture provided by the landlord

Know Your Rights And Responsibilities: Landlords

What are my rights as a landlord?

Check out our pages on rentbondproperty inspections and other renting costs to find out about landlords’ rights in those areas.

You have the right to:

  • enter the premises if you have the tenant’s permission (usually you have to give 48 hours’ notice), if there is an emergency, or if the Tenancy Tribunal has made an order that the landlord can enter the premises
  • receive rent when it is due
  • set an amount for bond money
  • inspect the premises when the tenant leaves
  • hold money back from the bond if there has been damage during the tenancy or if there is any rent owing from the tenants

What are my obligations and responsibilities as a landlord?

During the tenancy, you must:

  • provide a written and signed tenancy agreement
  • provide the premises in a reasonably clean state
  • keep the premises in a reasonable state of repair
  • comply with building, health and safety requirements
  • provide receipts to your tenants for their rent payments if these payments aren’t recorded in some other way (e.g. if the rent is paid to you in cash)
  • provide written notice of any rent increase
  • take reasonable steps to make sure none of your tenants disturb each other (if you have tenants in neighbouring flats)
  • compensate the tenant for serious and urgent repairs that the tenant has had done, if the damage was not the tenant’s fault and the tenant made a reasonable attempt to contact you about the repairs
  • give the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice if you need to do any repairs or maintenance, and do the work between 8am and 7pm
  • ask your tenant’s permission and visit at a reasonable hour if you want to show a prospective buyer, tenant or registered valuer through the premises
  • not use force, or threat of force, to enter or attempt to enter the premises while the tenant or anyone else is on the premises – it’s an offence to do so
  • not interfere with the supply of gas, power, water, telephone services, or other services to the premises, unless it is necessary for maintenance or repair, or to prevent danger

As a landlord, you must provide and maintain locks necessary to make the premises secure, and cannot change the locks without the tenant’s permission.
You are responsible for:

  • providing locks that keep the house or flat secure
  • giving notice to the tenants if the house or flat is going to be sold
  • giving at least 48 hours notice if you want to inspect the house or flat
  • giving at least 24 hours notice of any repair work to be carried out

If you want to inspect the premises you

  • have to give the tenant at least 48 hours and up to 14 days warning
  • must inspect between 8am and 7pm
  • can’t inspect more than once every four weeks

Got some more questions? Then head to Tenancy Services to get some answers.

Let us know what you think about the responsibilities of tenants and landlords in the comments below or on our AU and NZ Facebook pages.

How To Keep Your Home Pest-Free

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Are pesky pests bugging you and your family? Then read on to help banish any creepy critters from your home!

Pest control agency Rentokil helps rid frustrated homeowners of everything from crawling insects and flying pests to rats and mice.

We had a chat with expert bug eradicator Jon Thompson (AKA Rentokil’s Head of Operations) about why bed bugs are invading more and more homes and why it’s ok to step on a cockroach – in fact, he outright encourages you to do so.

What advice can you give to help keep pests at bay?

  • Keep a clean, dry, well-ventilated house.
  • Be vigilant for early signs of pests.
  • Have well-sealed doors and windows.
  • Carefully cover grass clippings and compost.
  • Dispose of pet droppings regularly.
  • Get a reputable pest control company with qualified staff in should you need the extra help.

Describe the worst pest problem you’ve ever had to deal with…

A home in a rural town where I had to move my service vehicle from their driveway onto the street after I started to spray – the cockroaches were streaming out the door towards it!

Sadly, there were dozens of cockroaches in the bedding in the babies cot. It was a nice feeling to be able to remedy this situation.

rat kitchenRats and mice are winter’s biggest pest issue.

What’s the biggest problem during winter?

Rats and mice – they enter homes at the onset of cooler, wetter weather to seek shelter and warmth.

Insulated walls and ceiling voids provide ideal harbourage for them and it is extremely difficult to rodent proof a house – mice can enter a hole the size that a pencil can fit into!

Are there going to be any particularly bad pest problems for people this year?

Warmer summers always produce greater numbers of flies, fleas and ants – the past summer was no exception.

What are the hardest pests to get rid of?

1. Flies – because you basically can’t get rid of them! – they will always be with us!

2. Bed bugs – because of their ability to lay ‘dormant’ for longs periods of time and withstand harsh conditions.

fly kitchen
Flies are the toughest pests to banish.

Are there any pests that you’re seeing more and more of?

Bed bugs have proliferated over the past decade or so – this is generally attributed to increased tourism and budget travel. Bed bugs are great hitch-hikers and can survive up to a year without a blood meal.

What pests bother people the most?

Probably flies and mosquitoes. The best way to manage their annoyance is to physically exclude them – which is often hard to do.

Are there any misconceptions about pests that you’d like to clear up?

There is a common misconception that if you stand on a cockroach you can spread the problem – not so! – step away!!


Any pests driving you up the wall? Have you got some good solutions for keeping them at bay? Let us know in the comments below or on our NZ and AU Facebook page.

7 Tricks To Sell Your Home This Winter

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Selling your house this winter?

We all know the old adage that spring is the best time to put your property on the market, but in the real world that’s not always possible.

Here are seven simple tricks to get your property looking its best when the weather’s at its worst.


1. Wash down the outside of your home

1457744_851298364904018_111069934829042365_nMake the outside of your home gleam like this house.

Kick mould, grime and moss to the kerb and give it an easy and cheap facelift.


2. Let there be light!

Turn on any outdoor lights to brighten up your property and make the house look inviting from the driveway.

If the outside is still looking a bit dull, then adding some extra solar-powered lights to line pathways and brighten up other features can be a quick fix.


3. Cut back any trees, bushes and shrubs that are stealing light from your home

c4ff839328928e41ca402471abca824ebd63f369There’s no shortage of light in this Wellington home – but check if any trees or shrubs are blocking light from any rooms in your house.

During winter you really need to try to get as much natural light into your house as possible. If there are any dark rooms or spaces, it might only take a few minutes with the secateurs to allow more light to flood in.


4. Show off outside spaces

Demonstrate how the outdoors – whether it’s the garden, deck, courtyard or porch – can be used in summer and during colder months.

This might mean uncovering outside furniture and showing off features like built-in barbecues, pizza ovens, pools and ponds for open homes and viewings.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not using these spaces yourself at the moment – it just allows buyers to get a better picture of the property and start to imagine living there.


5. Make sure your home is warm

A warm house projects a cosy, homely feel for prospective buyers as soon as they step in the front door.

Get the fireplace or wood-burner roaring or crank up the heaters before buyers are due for a viewing. Now is not the time to try to save on power bills – no one wants to look around a freezing cold house, let alone live in one.


6. Clear ALL paths of fallen leaves or snow

Don’t just clear the main path and driveway. If your property has pathways leading around the garden then you should be showing them off. A quick sweep of these, along with the deck and any steps, is paramount.


7. Spruce up neglected flowerbeds and pots

11069486_610429452390899_7838415046546435704_nTake some inspiration from this home and plant up the outside of your property with shrubs that will last through winter.

Add a few winter-flowering or evergreen plants to forgotten flowerbeds and plant pots. Even if you’re not the most green-fingered of homeowners – you only really need to keep them alive until you make that sale…


Have you got any other tips to help your house sell in winter? Share them with us in the comments below or on our Facebook pages in New Zealand and Australia.

Virtual Home Tour Revolution

Open homes – a necessary evil of house-hunters everywhere.

Rushing to make it there in the half-hour slot, taking off your shoes, signing the book, awkwardly shuffling past people up and down the stairs.

What if you could weed out all the houses that don’t even come close to what you’re looking for without having to go through all of that rigmarole?

Or in reverse, what if you could easily take a look at a property that you may have discounted and not bothered to go and see in person?

That’s where virtual home tours come in – putting a new spin on traditional home-viewing.

A recent article predicted Kiwi house-hunters may soon swap open homes for virtual reality.

Open2view is leading the way…

Open2view is already at the forefront of this technology with its 3D HomeView tours.

House-hunters can explore a property from every angle at their own pace on their computers, smartphones and tablets without having to physically step foot in the house.

HomeView uses 3D photography to capture and create interactive content with three different perspectives:

1. Walkthrough – navigate seamlessly from room to room and view it at any angle.

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2. Dollhouse – zoom out to a 3D dollhouse view.

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3. Floor plan – see everything in its place from above.

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Granted there are no virtual reality headsets but I bet they play havoc with your hair…

Virtual reality may not replace open homes entirely, but our HomeView tours allow would-be buyers to see a house from perspectives they would never get in real life, so there’s no denying it has its place.

We’re all used to having most things instantly available at our fingertips these days – and now house hunting is no different!

Check out our current listings to explore a property at your own pace, from every angle, by taking your own 3D HomeView tour – just look for the HomeView icon.

Or contact Open2view’s teams in New Zealand and Australia today to find out more about 3D HomeView.


What do you think of the idea of house hunting via virtual reality? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Crowdfunding For Your First Home

money

Vet bills, overseas jaunts, creative projects. It seems everyone and their dog is crowdfunding for something these days.

But what about getting complete strangers to help buy your first home?

That’s exactly what would-be first-time buyers could be doing with the launch of Gifted Deposit – a new site dedicated to helping people get their feet on the property ladder.

Hopeful homeowners will pitch for funding towards a deposit for their first home and rely on family, friends and strangers to hand over their cash.

The fundraisers must sign a document that states they will use the money for a mortgage deposit.

Will strangers dig into their pockets?

Would-be homebuyers will be able to post a video explaining why they need a helping hand and, while there will be no financial returns for investors, small rewards may be offered to those willing to part with their money. Think: an invite to the housewarming or some baking.

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The creators say the funding aspect of the site won’t be solely aimed at “strangers” but rather at first-time buyers’ network of family, friends, distant relatives and colleagues.

House-hunters could set up a campaign to encourage wedding guests to forgo the gifts of dodgy kitchenware and ornaments (which, let’s be honest, are shoved straight to the back of the cupboard after the honeymoon) and instead make a donation to their first-home fund.

Lots of couples are already doing this with “wishing wells” at weddings.

The crowdfunding conundrum…

Personally, crowdfunding makes me a little uneasy.

I loved the Abel Tasman beach campaign and think there’s definitely a place for those that fundraise for people in tragic circumstances. But when it’s for something that a lot of other people are just quietly plugging away at on their own, it irks me a bit.

My partner and I are currently saving for our first home. Watching house prices go up and up is pretty demoralising but it’s something we’re just sucking up and getting on with.

We’re lucky that my parents are letting us stay with them while we save but we’re making sacrifices in lots of other ways to pinch the pennies.

And we’re content with buying a do-up in a suburb a fair drive from the city to get on the ladder.

This new site could be a great way for first-time homeowners to get a boost to their savings but I think we’d still prefer to do it the old-fashioned way.


What do you think of the idea of crowdfunding for your first home? Did you find it a struggle to get on the property ladder or are you still not quite on that first rung?

Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.