Finding family accomodation - renting
For many families own their own home is not a practical option.
It may be they can not afford the cost of ownership, or they may not be sufficiently settled to consider it. Renting then becomes the best option. This may mean renting a flat, a townhouse, a city apartment or a house in the suburbs. On this page we provide some practical tips for those who are seeking rental accommodation.
Private rental housing can be located on sites such as Homeads, Trade me or in the To Let pages of the local newspaper. Alternatively, you could consider using a letting agency, but remember that an agency will charge you a finding fee.
Practical tips when renting
Firstly, think about your family's needs, then write up a checklist that includes:
- Location: How close are buses, schools, supermarkets, doctors? Is the location damp, sunny or shaded?
- Size and layout: How many bedrooms do you need? Are there stairs? Is there storage space? Is the property fenced to secure it for the children? Are there lawns and garden?
- Disability: Will you need to modify anything? Are there stairs or ramps? Wide doorways?
- Presentation: Is the property well presented? What appliances are there? Do they work?
- Family pets: If you have pets then you need to include them.
- Boarders: If you are thinking of having boarders, check that the landlord does not mind. Also, make sure there is demand for boarding in your local area.
Presenting well to landlords
The landlord will have two concerns - that you will look after the property and pay rent on time.
When going to see a property you may find the following tips useful:
- Call and let the landlord know if you are going to be late. If you don't, they may assume that you will also be late and unreliable with the rent.
- Turn up looking clean and tidy.
- Take your children along but encourage them to behave well.
- If you have a dog that barks at strangers, leave it at home.
- Try to be open and polite as this avoids misunderstanding.
Once you have found a property
If you have found the right place and the landlord is prepared to accept your family as tenants, the next stage is to complete a tenancy agreement and inspection report.
Tenancy agreements & inspection reports
The law requires the landlord to provide an agreement which sets out requirements such as rent, bond, pets, etc. Both you and the landlord need to sign the agreement - it doesn't take effect until the landlord has given you a copy.
You should also complete a property inspection report as part of signing the agreement. It provides a signed statement of the condition of the property at the beginning of the tenancy. This is important if you want to get your bond back when you move out.
At the time of signing the agreement it is essential that you are prepared to pay bond and rent in advance. The landlord will also want arrangements made for rent to be paid either by automatic payment (AP) or in person.
If you are receiving a benefit you can apply for an Advance on Benefit to help with the bond and first rent payment. If you are in paid employment, but on a low income, you can apply for the Accommodation Supplement and the Recoverable Assistance Payment to help with the bond and first rent payment. This is income and asset tested, and must be paid back, in agreed instalments.
If you and your children are escaping domestic violence, Work and Income provides a Special Needs Grant. This includes a recoverable advance for accommodation and a non-recoverable advance to assist with other costs.
Your rights & obligations
You are entitled to:
- quiet enjoyment of the property
- maintenance and prompt repair of breakdowns
- adequate notice of intended changes to the tenancy agreement including possible rent increases and/or sale of the property.
In turn, you are obligated to care for the property and keep to your side of the agreement including paying the rent as agreed and giving required notice if you want to leave the accommodation.
- Finding family accommodation
- Homeads - for listings of rental accommodation
- Trade Me - for listings of rental accommodation
- Tenancy services of the Department of Building and Housing - for further information on renting, including a range of on-line information sheets.
- Model tenancy agreement