Property Investing Frequently Asked Questions
How much rent can I receive for my property?
To determine how much rent you can charge for your property, you will need to assess the market rent - in other words, how much money similar properties in your area are renting for.
A good place to start is to carry out some research online. It is important to pay attention to the requested prices, as well as how long the properties stay on the market at those rates. Your local LJ Hooker agent can provide you with plenty of useful information on comparative rentals in the area.
How long is a typical lease?
In New Zealand, standard lease periods are generally either six or 12 months. While longer lease terms are possible, you are likely to find a smaller number of tenants who are willing to commit to this time.
You may wish to speak to your LJ Hooker agent about the different advantages of each lease length and help you determine how to maximise your return most effectively.
Can I increase the rent during the lease period?
Current rent rates must remain in place for the remainder of the lease term - but if you then want to increase the rent, you should give your tenant the required notice that you intend to change their rates at the end of their current lease.
Is it mandatory to enlist the services of a real estate agent to manage a rental property?
If you are outside of New Zealand for more than 21 days, an agent must be appointed.
Who is responsible for property security?
As the owner of the property, you are responsible for ensuring your property is secure and lockable - your tenants may not be able to insure their belongings unless window locks, deadlocks and other security measures are in place.
It is commonly recommended that locks are installed to ensure the safety of your tenants - safeguarding the contents of the property is the responsibility of all parties, including you as the property owner.
Who is responsible for carrying out property repairs?
Owners should arrange for repairs to be carried out by a qualified, licensed tradesperson. Your local LJ Hooker agent can help you find someone in the area to carry out minor repairs - this is often a more affordable option than finding someone on your own.
While it is uncommon for tenants to request small repairs, such as replacing a light globe, you will want to ensure other repairs - such as replacing tap washers - are carried out as quickly as possible to avoid damage to the property.
What happens if a tenant requests maintenance, but is never home?
In this circumstance, owners may wish to write a letter to the tenant explaining the situation and giving clear notice of a new date and time for the repairs to be carried out. This note should also advise that the tradesperson will be given the keys to access the property at this time if the tenant is not present.
Enlisting the service of an agent that liaises frequently with tradespeople - such as LJ Hooker - can help you, as there is often a reduced charge for a call-out if work cannot be completed.
What if your departing tenants claim to have lost the keys to the property?
All leases require that tenants return all keys to the property - including the ones originally given to them at the beginning of the tenancy - when they move out.
Tenants who have lost the keys they were provided are responsible for the cost of replacing them - this can be claimed from the bond. It is important to note, however, that tenants may dispute any claim on the bond by making an application to a tribunal. Property owners and their agents must ensure their paperwork is in order, including proof that the tenants were given keys at the beginning of their tenancy.
Can I charge the tenant for the cost of having the water and sewerage connected to the property?
It is the owner's responsibility to have utilities such as water and sewerage connected to the property.
However, in most areas of New Zealand, tenants can be charged for all or part of the water usage costs.
As these can vary depending on your region, you may wish to speak with your local LJ Hooker agent about the different ways you can manage and pay your rates notices.
Neighbours are complaining about the noise my tenants make. What should I do?
If you have received written advice from the strata managers of the building about the noise your tenants are making, this is a good opportunity to contact your tenant and let them know about their neighbours' concerns.
It is advisable to do this in writing, advising your tenant they are in breach of the terms of their lease. They should also be advised that due to the nature of strata buildings, any further noise complaints could result in a formal notice to vacate the property.
What if the cost of repairs to the property is higher than the bond?
If your vacating tenants have left your property needing repairs that cost more than the bond, you will need to apply for an order to recover the necessary amount needed to carry out the repairs.
Owners should ensure they have proof of the damages, as well as any relevant correspondence or conversations with the tenants.
Depending on your property and the type of damage that has occurred, you may be able to make a claim on your landlord protection insurance policy either before or after a tribunal hearing.