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What Do Tenants Look For In A Rental?

Home ownership rates have dropped, and more people are renting for longer, some forever. Claire Connell asks the experts what tenants look for in a rental.

11 October 2021

New government rules focus on keeping rental properties dry, warm and in tip-top shape. But what do tenants want? What persuades them to sign up to a rental?

1. Longer tenancy options

Now that fewer Kiwis can afford to buy their own home, OneRoof property commentator Ashley Church believes we’ll see longer leases brought in.

Tenancies of five years or even longer are common in Europe, particularly in cities where there are low rates of home ownership.

Kiwis are now renting for longer or, in some cases, forever, and one-year tenancies don’t suit people with families, he says.

Church says many want to know they won’t be kicked out after a year, and that they can keep their kids in the same schools without having to move.

He predicts we’ll see a change in legislation over the next 10 years: “The government will recognise that fewer Kiwis will own their own home.”

There’ll always be demand for shorter tenancies, he says, but longer leases will be more in demand.

“I think governments have to respond to the changing demographics of the housing market.”

2. Renting with a pet

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world.

But Church says in the past many people sacrificed having a pet for a couple of years while renting – until they bought their first home. If they’re going to be renting for the next 10 years, they might want to own a pet.

He expects to see legislative changes. Pet bonds have been suggested – but there’s an enormous range of pets out there.

“The debate will be around pet bonds, or discretion for landlords over the type of pets allowed. American pit bulls are a lot different to chihuahuas.”

“Quite a few landlords don’t comply with the section of the Act that says tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment.”

3. Landlords who don’t harass them

Angela Maynard, from the Tenants Protection Association in Auckland, gets around 100 calls for help a month from people who are renting. Many of these complaints are about tenants being harassed by their landlord.

“Quite a few landlords don’t comply with the section of the Act that says tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment. A good landlord should leave the tenants alone to enjoy their house, and not bother them,” Maynard says.

“They should give them 48 hours’ notice if they are coming by, for any reason.”

Modern communications can also be a downside. “Constant emails from a landlord are not letting tenants enjoy their tenancy and home.”

4. Value for money

Karen Withers, president of the Independent Property Managers Association, says tenants want to feel they’re getting value for money, especially in the hot Auckland market.

“They ask, if I’m going to pay that amount of rent, what does it get me?”

If you’re in the middle of the Auckland CBD, a carpark might be gold, she says. Or, if you have a family, being near schools or public transport might mean great value.

A house in good condition helps offer value for money too, Withers says.

5. A healthy home

Tenants want homes that are warm and dry, says Angela Maynard, from the Tenants Protection Association.

Extractor fans and insulation are important.

“People can get serious illnesses,” Maynard says. “Black mould can lead to really bad fungal lung infections,” she says.

Leaks, and doors and windows that gape or don’t shut, need to be fixed, she says. “A lot of landlords don’t repair things – they ignore them.”

Tenants should also do their bit – airing the home, using extractor fans, removing mould, and not drying washing inside.

Making NZ homes healthier

From 1 July 2021, the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act sets standards private landlords must comply with, within 90 days of any new tenancy. All rental properties in New Zealand must meet the Healthy Homes Standards by 1 July 2024.

The standards include:

• Heating: Rental homes must have fixed heating devices in living rooms, which can warm rooms to at least 18°C.

• Insulation: Rental homes must have ceiling and underfloor insulation which either meets the 2008 Building Code, or (for existing ceiling insulation) is at least 120mm thick.

• Ventilation: Rental homes must have the right size extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms, and opening windows in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms.

• Moisture and drainage: Rental homes must have efficient drainage and guttering, downpipes and drains. If a rental home has an enclosed subfloor, it must have a ground moisture barrier if it’s possible to install one.

• Draught-stopping: Rental homes must have no unnecessary gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors, and doors that could cause noticeable draughts. Unused chimneys and fireplaces must be blocked.

Source: Tenancy Services, tenancy.govt.nz. For more information, visit the website.

Published 26 May 2019

This article does not contain any financial advice and has not taken into account any particular person’s circumstances. Before relying on it, we recommend you speak with a financial adviser. This story reflects the views of the contributor only. Content comes from sources that we consider are accurate, but we do not guarantee that the content is accurate.

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