Finding the right place to rent takes time and thought. House or apartment? Alone or with others? Cheap or expensive? It’s not always easy to find a place that meets your needs. Here are some pointers on where to start. 

Flatting tells you more about the difference between tenants and flatmates.

Increase your options by searching widely

It is not always easy to find a flat or house, especially one that meets all your needs. Here are some pointers on where to start.

Look on the internet

The internet can be a quick and cost-effective way to find a place. Search for renting websites by using ‘renting ’ or ‘rental properties’ as keywords in an internet search engine. Most sites let you search using various criteria (for example, price range, suburb, number of rooms). They often include photos of available rental homes.

Look in newspapers

Look in the 'To let' column in the classifieds section of your local newspaper. In most areas, the best days to look are Wednesdays and Saturdays. The earlier in the day you start following up on the advertisements, the better your chances of getting the house you want. You can also try placing an ad in the paper to say you’re looking for a property. Make sure to give a contact phone number, and be aware that you’ll have to pay for the ad.

Ask around

If you’re looking for a place to rent, you may be able to find one by asking people you know. They may be about to leave the property, or they may know someone who’s looking for tenants. You may be able to contact the landlord before the place is advertised.

Post notices locally

You could put an eye-catching advertisement or notice in the window of your local dairy, the community noticeboard at your local supermarket, or on noticeboards at the nearest polytechnic, university or wānanga. Say that you’re looking for a property to rent in the area, and leave your contact details. Landlords might advertise this way too.

Ask at real estate agents and property management companies

Some real estate agents and property management companies have rental houses available. Any property manager, whether they’re independent or belong to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ), are called letting agents and are allowed to charge a letting fee.

Letting fees has information about this.

Use a ‘property broker’

Some firms list houses for rent, and charge a fee for checking their lists and providing the contact details of landlords for the places you’re interested in. The fee is usually charged regardless of whether you actually find a place through them. If you’re referred to a real estate agent by the property broker, you may also have to pay the real estate agent’s fee.

Download checklists to help you choose a good place

A new tenant’s checklist will help you choose the rental property that’s best for you, your budget and your lifestyle. Look at lots of properties to see what’s available, and check them out carefully. As you look around, use the checklist to note down what you think.

Renter’s healthy home checklist (external link) from ACC will help you identify any potential hazards in the property you’re looking at.

Work out what you can afford to pay

Do your sums before you commit to anything. For example, if your rent’s $250 per week, you may need to pay:

4 weeks’ rent as bond $1,000
2 weeks’ rent in advance $500
Letting fee (usually 1 week’s rent plus GST) $288
So the total you’ll need is $1,788

Know your budget… and stick to it!

Charging rent explains what a reasonable rent is, how you can pay it, and how often the landlord can increase it.

Make sure you have insurance

It’s important to make sure you have the right insurance in case you damage anything, either accidentally or otherwise.

Insurance explains the insurance that you'll need.

Choose a good landlord

It’s important to feel comfortable with your landlord. How do you get on with them? Are they easy to talk to? Before you agree to rent from them, find out as much as you can about them. It’s okay to ask for references – previous tenants would be good to talk to.

Search for Tenancy Tribunal orders (external link) on the Ministry of Justice website to find out if the landlord’s been involved in disputes in the past.

If you’re in any doubt about the landlord, look somewhere else.

Be aware that landlords can’t discriminate against you

Discrimination in tenancy matters has detailed information about discrimination in relation to renting.