F L ATT ING K N O W Y O U R R I G H TS
Using this Book 3
Finding a Flat 4-5
Knowing the Costs 6-9
Contacting a Flat 10 - 13
Setting Up 14 - 19
Living in a Flat 20 - 26
Dealing with Problems 27 - 31
Leaving a Flat 32 - 36
Useful Resources 37 - 41
USING THIS BOOK Flatting can be one of the most enjoyable and transformative experiences of your life. You will make great friends, maybe lose a few, and learn a whole lot about life and about yourself. There is heap to know about flatting, but lots of first-timers head into it blindly. The whole point of this booklet is to help you navigate things and make the right decisions so they donâ€™t come back to bite you. So before you launch into the flat hunt, take some time to flick through this. It might just save you time and a lot of hassle further down the track. As you move through the flatting process from finding a flat, to setting one up, dealing with any issues and then leaving, keep an eye on each section of this booklet for helpful tips. And remember if you do run into issues, we are always here to help, so feel free to come and see us. Good luck! Rory Lenihan-Ikin Welfare-Vice President 2016
FINDING A FLAT HOW DO I FIND A FLAT? Whether you’re looking for a flat as a group or by yourself, you’ll find the majority are advertised online. Here are the most popular options: TRADE ME • Whole flats: trademe.co.nz/property • Individual rooms: trademe.co.nz/flatmates-wanted REAL ESTATE • Whole flats only: realestate.co.nz/rental • VUW’s Accommodation Finder: victoria.ac.nz/accommodation/private-accommodation ASK AROUND You’ll be surprised how many connections you may have to people needing to fill a room or a flat. Asking the right person, at the right time, could get you a viewing before a place is advertised online – and give you the chance to meet your flatmates before moving in.
SOCIAL MEDIA There is a bunch of Facebook groups for people looking for flats, flatmates, or for a room. We suggest you type the following search phrases into Facebook search when flat hunting: • ‘Flats’, ‘Rooms for Rent Wellington’ and ‘Wellington’ • ‘Flatmates Wanted Wellington’ • ‘Vic Deals Look at our up-to-date online guide for a list of websites that will help you find a flat or room: vuwsa.org.nz/know-your-rights WHAT SHOULD I THINK ABOUT WHEN LOOKING FOR A FLAT? Quite often there are heaps more people looking for flats than available in Wellington. This can make it harder to find something that you’re happy with, and that fits your budget.
Try not to rush the ‘flat finding’ process to avoid signing a dodgy contract or getting stuck in a crap flat.
KNOWING THE COSTS POTENTIAL FLATTING COSTS
BOND Maximum four weeks rent as bond, but two weeks is average
INSURANCE For your personal contents
LETTING FEE One weekâ€™s rent plus GST
(through a property manager only)
RENT IN ADVANCE Up to two weeks rent to the landlord
GENERAL EXPENSES Power, internet, rubbish bags
POTENTIAL EXPENSES Water, gas
CHATTELS Find out if whiteware is included in the flat 6
Create a budget and work out how much you can afford. Take into account all the potential costs of moving in, and work out your billing and payment arrangements before moving in. If you’d like budgeting tips, visit: victoria.ac.nz/study/student-finance We also recommend searching the following: • ‘Financial Survival’ on victoria.ac.nz/students/support • ‘Budget - Don’t Fudge It’ on sorted.co.nz
TOP TIP If you avoid going through a property manager, you’ll avoid the non-refundable letting fee!
OUR ADVICE Think about whether you want to be a flatmate or tenant. Signing a tenancy agreement and becoming a tenant will give you greater protection than if you were to move in without signing one; but you will take an obligation to your landlord.
BASIC CHECKLIST Consider these questions when looking at flats. ADMINISTRATIVE Who are you dealing with (ie the landlord, another tenant, or a property management agency)? How soon is the flat available? Is it a fixed-term or periodic tenancy? Refer to table in pages that follow. How many people are allowed to live at the property? Are you entering into a flat-sharing or tenancy agreement (are you a tenant or flatmate)? Refer to table in the pages that follow.
COST What are the upfront costs? Bond? Rent? Letting fee? Is it furnished or not (ie whiteware included)? How far is it from university? What are the transportation costs? Do you have to pay for hot water and gas?
Internet plans, electricity bills, Sky/TV costs?
GENERAL How much sun does the flat get (especially in winter)? Is it well-insulated? Is there a heat pump or other form of heating? Are there extractor fans in the bathroom and kitchen (if not, this can cause a lot of moisture/condensation)? Are there visible signs of damage or poor construction, (ie drafty windows)? Are there visible signs of mould? Is there parking? How secure is the flat (ie lock on door, latches on windows, alarmed)? How close are the neighbours? Do you have privacy?
Is there a lawn that has to be mowed or a garden to care for? Who is responsible?
Is it close to supermarkets, shops etc.?
Download this checklist from vuwsa.org.nz/know-your-rights 9
CONTACTING A FLAT WHAT DO I DO WHEN I FIND A FLAT THAT I LIKE? CONTACT AND ARRANGE A FLAT-VIEWING Usually this will mean calling or emailing the landlord/ property agent. Good communication goes a long way, as you want to make a good impression. Send friendly, succinct emails and texts. Speak clearly if leaving a voicemail, and remember to leave your number! PRE-TENANCY APPLICATION Depending on your landlord’s requirements, you may be asked to fill out a pre-tenancy application form (available from tenancy.govt.nz), providing your contact details, references; you may be asked to complete a credit check.
DISCRIMINATION You cannot be discriminated against when the reason for discrimination is prohibited by the Human Rights Act 1993. These grounds apply to granting, continuing or ending a lease. For example, your landlord cannot change an existing lease because they find out you have become unemployed or have a child. If you think you’re being discriminated against, seek advice from your Community Law Centre or Citizens’ Advice Bureau. 10
THE LAW TENANCY AGREEMENTS • Read carefully! A tenancy agreement must be in writing, and include certain information relating to the tenancy (including rent, date tenancy starts, bond, letting fees, furniture included and insulation details (1 July 2016)). Often, a tenancy services standard agreement is used. • Landlords can also add additional conditions, so long as they comply with the Residential Tenancies Act (ie, relating to smoking, pets, number of tenants). • Agreements can also include clauses about increasing rent (even with fixed-term tenancies!). However, any increase must still be on 60-days notice. • Decide between your flatmates who wants to be on the tenancy agreement, although some landlords might prefer all tenants are listed. Those listed on the tenancy agreement officially become tenants; those who are not, are simply flatmates (see dictionary at the end of this handbook). • Every tenancy agreement must be in writing, and be signed by the landlord and the tenant. Agreed changes and tenancy agreement renewals must also be in writing.
TOP TIP It’s worth having a look at the tenancy agreement template provided on tenancy.govt.nz. The template covers all the standard agreement inclusions. So, if there’s anything extra on yours and you’re unsure why, ask the landlord to clarify. If you need advice, ring Tenancy Services, 0800 TENANCY.
FIXED VERSUS PERIODIC TENANCIES FIXED (MOST COMMON FOR STUDENTS)
Fixed time (ie 12 months)
Continuous, no fixed end-date
Landlords cannot increase rent during this period (unless stated in tenancy agreement)
Landlords can increase rent at any time after the first 180-days of tenancy, with 60-days notice in writing
Landlords cannot kick you The tenancy can be out, and you cannot leave cancelled by the landlord during the fixed period with three months notice unless you come to an (this can be reduced to agreement (see ‘Leaving a 42-days in some cases) or flat’ in this handbook with 21-days notice by the – refer to the Contents for tenant. Notices must be page number) given in writing
IS THERE A LEGAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING A ‘TENANT’ AND A ‘FLATMATE’? THE ANSWER IS YES! TENANT
Your name is on the tenancy agreement and you have signed it
Has not signed a tenancy agreement with landlord
Agreement and your relationship with the landlord is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act
You may have a flatting arrangement with existing tenant (ie the person named on the agreement). If so, you are responsible to the tenant and your relationship is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act
Has rights and Has no rights enforceable responsibilities as a tenant with the landlord, and will to the landlord not be protected from eviction Has obligations to the Flatmates are not directly landlord. All tenants are responsible to the ‘jointy and severally liable’ landlord for paying rent. – this means if one of you If a flatmate stops paying falls behind in paying rent, rent, the tenant(s) will be all of the tenants can be held responsible and may held responsible and may need to cover it need to cover it
SETTING UP Itâ€™s important to record the state of the flat when you move in, so that at the end of the tenancy the landlord cannot say, for instance, the stain on the floor or the hole in the wall was from you (and make you pay for it!).
TOP TIP Walk around the flat with your landlord and make a detailed checklist of everything in the flat and its condition, including walls, carpet, appliances and furniture (if applicable) âˆ’ even if your landlord does not want to walk through with you. Take photos of everything out-of-the-ordinary and email them to the landlord politely asking them to clarify. If you need advice, ring Tenancy Services, 0800 TENANCY.
MOVING AND NEED HELP? HERE ARE SOME MOVING SUGGESTIONS: • DIY: Great! Rally your friends and family to help you move in on the day. It’s easy to hire trailers and vans. Ensure all personal items are accounted for. • Moving company: Convenient and reliable, but costly. Search Google or TradeMe using the key phrase: ‘Wellington House Movers’. • Student movers: Help a fellow student out. Throw some cash their way if they’re offering a moving service during popular moving times for students. Be wary of who you choose, and make sure personal details are exchanged and conditions are discussed before the move. Look up ‘Vic Deals’ on Facebook. FLATTING AGREEMENT In the flat, it’s a good idea to have a flatmate agreement between everyone in writing. This can include quiet hours; paying for your own damage; and splitting power, rent, internet, chores, and food. You may think this isn’t necessary because you’re all good friends, but it’s good to set some boundaries at the start so everyone has the same expectations – your best friend might not always be your best flatmate. Download a flatting agreement template from: tenancy.govt.nz
Harold and I were great friends. But I didn’t realise what flatting with him would be like. He was always noisy late at night, never cleaned, and we always had to chase him up for the rent! Never again. – JR
FLAT ACCOUNT • Flat accounts are useful for paying for flat shopping (splitting payments five ways at Countdown checkout is a nightmare), paying for power; and sometimes landlords insist on rent coming from one account. Also, all payments come into one account so everyone can see who hasn’t paid rent on time, etc. • You might want to set up a joint flat account. Some banks allow you to add all flatmates to one account. And you can often apply together online. • For more information on bills and flat accounts, speak to VUW Student Finance or check out: victoria.ac.nz/students/money BUDGETING BOND • Your bonds are refundable, provided the landlord is not required to use it to repair damage to the flat, or cover any unpaid rent. To ensure you get your bond back at the end of your tenancy, make sure your landlord lodges your bond with Tenancy Services within 23days. You should receive a bond receipt via mail/email after they’ve lodged it. If not, give Tenancy Services a ring on 0800 737 666 to confirm they’ve received your bond. 16
• Tenancy Services keeps the bond money safe in case of disputes later; and landlords can get in a lot of trouble for not lodging it. It’s the law. LETTING FEE • This is a fee that can only be charged by property managers, not private landlords. Check the dictionary at the end of this handbook for details. RENT • Pretty much goes without saying: Pay the rent on time. If it’s due Wednesday, tell everyone to put it in the flat account on Monday night, so it can be paid out of the flat account on Tuesday, and be in the landlord’s bank account by Wednesday. POWER • Shop around for the cheapest power. Compare power prices on powerswitch.org.nz
TOP TIP Usually you can get low consumption or on/off peak plans, which generally work out to be cheaper, especially during holidays when everyone is away.
INTERNET AND PHONE • Shop around and avoid signing up for a fixed-term contract, especially if you aren’t staying in the flat over summer. A contract can also avoid hefty cancellation fees when leaving the flat. 17
OUR ADVICE Book the internet in advance and choose the installation date when you move in. Otherwise you could risk being internet-less until April.
TOP TIP Consider getting ultrafastfibre.co.nz or Vodafone cable. If you choose WiFi, consider how many people you’ll be flatting with. Will you be competing against five other flatmates to watch Shortland Street at the same time?
INSURANCE • Contents insurance is an extra weekly cost, but can make a big difference if you get some unexpected, or random visitors to your parties, helping themselves to your things. • You also have the option of personal liability insurance. This insurance covers you for unexpected damages (ie you leave the oven on and melt all your flatmates’ belongings). MISCELLANEOUS SMOKE ALARMS • From 1 July 2016 landlord’s are responsible for installing smoke alarms. There must be one smoke alarm installed within three metres of each bedroom doorway, but it is the tenant’s responsibility to change batteries.
OUR ADVICE Don’t remove your smoke alarms off the wall because they keep beeping!
DECORATING • Check what your landlord is okay with you hanging on the walls. Be careful when pulling Blu-Tack off the walls too. Sometimes it can pull off paint, and you’ll be responsible for repairing the damage. FLAT WARMING • If you host a flat warming party, let your neighbours know in advance. Most are fine with some noise, for one night. • Remember, as a tenant, you have an obligation to give and receive a reasonable amount of peace, comfort, and privacy. Fines can apply, as well as an angry landlord who can take action against you, if these obligations are breached often (and you’re the culprit). • Noise control can be called at any time of the night, not just after 10pm. If noise is out-of-control, you are within your rights to call noise control, and so are your neighbours. The first time noise control is called out, the noisy person will receive a written warning. And the noise control officers can confiscate whatever’s making the noise for repeated calls!
LIVING IN A FLAT Great, you’ve secured yourself a flat! What happens next? It’s important to know what your responsibilities as a tenant are, and what the landlord’s responsibilities are. Clarifying these can help avoid headache later on. LANDLORD RESPONSIBILITIES • Maintaining the exterior and interior on property (with 24 hours notice) and doing any necessary repair work within a reasonable time. • Allowing the tenant ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the premises – this means the landlord must respect the tenant’s peace and privacy. • Inform the tenants if the property is on the market for sale. TENANT RESPONSIBILITIES • Paying rent on time. • Keeping premises reasonably clean and tidy. • Notifying landlord as soon as repair work is needed. • Notifying landlord as soon as possible of any damage (accidental or otherwise). • Paying for any outgoings such as electricity, gas, internet, etc.
A TENANT MUST NOT... • Withhold rent if the landlord cannot get repairs done. • Damage or permit damage (ie bring mates over who are a bit wild) to the premises. • Disturb neighbours or landlord’s other tenants. • Alter or attach anything to the premises without landlord’s written consent. • Use property for any unlawful purpose. COMMUNICATION There could be a number of instances where you might need to contact your landlord, so it’s important to have a good working relationship (especially if you need a reference in the future). In this way communication is key. STEPS • Decide which flatmate will be the primary contact for the landlord regarding flat-related issues, and who will be the backup. • Ask the landlord what their preferred method of communication is (ie text, call, email), and try to stick to this. • Ask your landlord if they have a backup contact in case they are unreachable. • Write down all the details.
PROS • By following the landlord’s processes, you become easier to work with, and it becomes more likely your message will be received and acknowledged. • Having one contact person makes communication consistent; the landlord may be busy with other tenancies and won’t have time to hear from all your flatmates about the same issue.
OUR ADVICE Landlords are people too, and there will be times when you have to raise a serious issue with them. This could be regarding maintenance, vermin infestations, late rent; so communicate politely and respectfully at all times.
LAW • If the damage was intentional (ie a party goer puts a hole in your wall), the landlord can ask the tenant to repair the damage or cover your landlord’s cost of replacement or repair. • A tenant is not responsible for ‘fair wear and tear’ (ie if your washing machine stops because it’s old and defective). • If a problem is urgent (is likely to cause injury to people or property) and you have taken all reasonable steps to contact your landlord, you can organise for repairs to be done yourself and the landlord will be required to reimburse you, if you can show you tried to contact them first. 22
STEPS • Get a list of preferred tradespeople from your landlord in advance, in the event urgent work needs to be done and you are unable to contact your landlord. • Always check with your landlord first before getting repairs done – landlords usually prefer to contact tradespeople themselves.
The toilet in our upstairs bathroom stopped working. In a house of five, having only one working toilet is bad enough, but when that one toilet is connected via a very thin wall to a person’s bedroom, the situation can be dire. After unsuccessfully waiting for the toilet to fix itself, we contacted our landlord. The first question she asked was whether the tap (on the pipe connecting the toilet to the wall) was turned off (who knew there was a tap?). Turns out one of our flatmates while getting cozy with the toilet had shut the tap off and subsequently forgotten. Apparently this had happened before. − First Year Flatters
TOP TIP Think before you call. Are you causing the problem? You’ll be liable for the call-out fee if there isn’t an actual defect.
We had a serious rat infestation. We had traps, poison, but still they came. Prior to the rats I had taken walking into the kitchen (without rats) for granted. After the trauma of capturing one (and releasing it) and having to kill one that got half caught in a trap, we decided the pile of rubbish outside our kitchen was probably not helping the situation. − Second Year Flatters
Remember to ask yourself: Is there something you can do to stop or alleviate the problem? Refer to flowcharts below: MINOR MAINTENANCE ISSUE
MINOR MAINTENANCE ISSUE
Can you fix it yourself? (without making the problem worse)
Notify the landlord (via agreed communication method)
If in doubt, call your landlord!
The landlord must give 24hrs notice to do repairs (between 8am - 7pm)
MAJOR MAINTENANCE ISSUE
MAJOR MAINTENANCE ISSUE
Don’t attempt to fix it yourself
Notify the landlord (via agreed communication method)
Tenants can ask the lardlord to reimburse them for repairs
If you are unable to contact the landlord − call preferred tradesperson/have the problem fixed
The landlord must give 24hrs notice to do repairs (between 8am - 7pm)
If the lardlord refuses − contact to the Tenancy Tribunal
DAMAGE LAW Tenants are required to fix any damage they or their visitors cause on purpose, or by being careless; and must pay to have someone fix it. 1 1 CJP Guidelines
STEPS • Tell your landlord about the damage as soon as possible, be honest and upfront about what has happened. • If you are upfront about the damage and your willingness to fix it, your landlord will generally appreciate your honesty. TESTIMONIAL
A particularly intense game of indoor soccer left a very sad, and very large hole in our wall. We called our landlord to let her know. She said she wasn’t worried so long as we had the hole fixed - First Year Flatters
FLAT INSPECTIONS BY LAW THE LANDLORD: • Must give 48-hours notice. • May only enter between the hours of 8am-7pm. • May not do an inspection more than once every 4-weeks 2. AS A TENANT • Tidy up before an inspection – you are required to keep your flat reasonably clean and tidy at all times anyway. • A clean house says a lot about a person. Your landlord is far more likely react to damage in an understanding manner if they get the impression you are a tidy person who treats the flat in a mature, respectful manner.
2 Residential Tenancies Act, s 48.
DEALING WITH PROBLEMS Sometimes, despite being polite and forthcoming with damaged property or other issues, the relationship with the landlord can’t be mended on its own. We’ve outlined some of the options available below. AS A TENANT The tenant or the landlord can issue a 14-day notice to the other. This is usually done when there’s a serious problem. A 14-day notice gives the other party 14-days to fix an issue, such as maintenance or rent. If you decide to issue 14-days notice make sure you’ve tried to talk with your landlord before hand. If the problem is still not fixed after the 14-days are up, you can take your case to the Tenancy Tribunal. TERMINATION ORDERS Termination orders can be sought by both the landlord and the tenant from the Tenancy Tribunal to end a fixedterm tenancy early. An order can be filed against you if you’re not fulfilling your legal obligations. A landlord can apply for a Termination Order if: • You’re 21-days behind in paying rent. • You’ve caused or threatened to cause substantial damage to the property. This includes allowing another person to cause damage. • You have assaulted or threatened to assault the landlord, their family or their agents. 27
Both a tenant and landlord can apply for a Termination Order if: • The tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act has been breached by the other party and the tribunal finds: - The breach was committed. - The party was given 14-days notice to remedy the breach, but hasn’t. It is unjust to refuse an order. TOP TIP If you have a serious issue, but your property manager is being difficult, try contacting your property owner directly. This puts pressure on your property manager because the property owner pays them to deal with you.
OUR ADVICE Never withhold rent if there are maintenance issues because you’ll give your landlord a strong case against you.
THE TENANCY TRIBUNAL Applying to the Tenancy Tribunal should be a last resort, but it ensures your disputes will get resolved. The Tribunal only decides disputes between a tenant and landlord, not flatmates. If the dispute is with a flatmate, it can be dealt with by the Disputes Tribunal instead.
Retaliatory notice: The landlord cannot end your tenancy because you’ve gone to the tribunal – you’re entitled to stand up for your rights. If this happens it can be set aside by the Tribunal. THE PROCESS APPLYING TO THE TRIBUNAL • It’s a good idea to get some advice from Tenancy Services before you start. • Applications can be done online using the Tenancy Tribunal online application tool. There’s an easy link on the Tenancy Services website, which outlines how to do this. • You’ll need to pay a small fee of $20.44. • Find out what supporting evidence you need to provide from Tenancy Services. You don’t need to quote any laws. OUR ADVICE Ministry of Justice’s website lists previous Tribunal decisions. Look up a random suburb and have a read – it’s a good way to get an idea of what happens.
We went to the Tenancy Tribunal because the landlord refused to return our bond. He tried to use it to pay for maintenance (his responsibility), and the contract included things like getting the carpet and chimney professionally cleaned. We thought the Tribunal process was efficient, fair and we felt heard. We were really satisfied, but we would recommend that you do your homework first, get some advice so that you are clear about what you want. There were things we could have asked for if we’d known beforehand.
CHANGES TO YOUR TENANCY AGREEMENT Generally, these should be in writing and be signed by both landlord and tenant. But if not, as a tenant you are still protected by the Residential Tenancies Act. By law you cannot give up your rights as a tenant, even under contract.
INCREASING THE RENT • Periodic: These can be no more than once approximately every 6-months, and you’re entitled to 60-days notice before rent increases. Also, any rent increase has to be given in writing; and an increase cannot happen within 180-days of the last increase taking effect, or in the first 180-days of tenancy. Lastly, visit tenancy.govt.nz to check the market rent rates in your area – could be a good negotiating tool and useful when looking for flats. • Fixed term: Only allowed by agreement (by both landlord and tenant) – otherwise not allowed for the term under contract. However the landlord can apply to the Tribunal to increase the rent if they’ve made significant upgrades with the tenant’s permission, or they’ve incurred unexpected expenses. Also, many property management companies include a clause allowing them to increase rent. You can try to negotiate out of this, but it is quite common so they may be unwilling to take this clause out. • If you’re renewing a lease at the end of a term, a landlord can increase the rent without notice because it’s technically a new lease; but a considerate landlord would tell you beforehand, so you can decide whether or not to look for a new place. • If a variation is contrary to anything in the Residential Tenancies Act, it will usually be considered invalid.
LEAVING THE FLAT When can I leave a flat? If your name is on a tenancy agreement, you are responsible along with the other names on the agreement for the flat and rent payments, until your name comes off the lease, or some other arrangement is made with the landlord (ie subletting or assignment).
FIXED TERM TENANCY
You want to stay?
Even when your lease is up Great – periodic tenancies you can renew or extend continue until either you or by agreement with the the landlord wants it to end landlord and tenant or if there is a right to extend the tenancy outlined in the tenancy agreement, in which case you need to give the landlord 21-days notice
You want to move out?
If you or your landlord want to end the tenancy on the fixed-term expiry date, you/landlord must give 21-days notice to the other party, otherwise it will automatically turn into a periodic tenancy
Notice must be given 21-days before, and must: • Be in writing • Include address of tenancy • State date when tenancy is to end • Be signed
FIXED TERM TENANCY
You want to move out early?
The lease can be ended early if your flatmates and the landlord agree in writing. Otherwise, the landlord can agree to you subletting or assigning your room In saying all this the Tenancy Act allows you to end a lease if the premise becomes uninhabitable (through something other than a breach of the Tenancy Agreement)
Notice must be given 21-days before, and must: • Be in writing • Include address of tenancy • State date when tenancy is to end • Be signed
Landlord wants you to move out?
Your landlord can’t get you to move out unless you agree or are in breach of your tenancy agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act. In the latter case, a Termination order must be sought through the Tenancy Tribunal
Notice must be given 90days before, and must: • Be in writing • Include address of tenancy • State date when tenancy is to end • Be signed Notice can be given 42-days before, only if: - the property is sold or - the landlord’s family want to move in or - the property is known for employee accommodation and will be used for that purpose again
SUBLETTING Subletting is when you move out of your flat during the lease and create an agreement with another person to live in your room in place of you (ie over the summer, if you go on exchange). CAN I SUBLET? • Sometimes your tenancy agreement will contain this information. You’ll need to ask your landlord and get written consent. The landlord isn’t allowed to unreasonably withhold consent. HOW TO SUBLET? • You need to create another agreement between yourself and the subletter, much like the one that exists between tenants and flatmates. Go to tenancy.govt.nz for a template. In saying all this, this is a risky set up – if the person decides to stop paying you, you have to pay in their place. • You still have the same obligations to your landlord, including making sure the subletter pays rent on time. OUR ADVICE Subletting is different from Assignment because your name is still on the lease and you still have rights and obligations to the landlord. Your agreement with the subletter is a personal contract rather than a lease. The subletter has obligations to you, but not the landlord and vice versa.
ASSIGNMENT Assignment is when you move out of a flat during the lease and have someone replace you as a tenant on the tenancy agreement. CAN I ASSIGN? • You can change a tenant during a lease as long as the landlord and other tenants agree in writing HOW TO ASSIGN? • Find a suitable person to replace you on the tenancy agreement. Often your landlord has to agree to your choice of person. That person will take over your responsibilities as a tenant once their name is added to the tenancy agreement and it is signed • You are still responsible for your obligations (ie rent) until the change of tenant date specified • Make sure the bond is transferred into the new tenant’s name by filing a change of tenant form (the new tenant pays the old tenant their share of the bond). This form may be supplied by the landlord or you can find it on the Tenancy Services website.
MOVING OUT CHECKLIST You’ve sorted out you can leave, have given notice where appropriate and you’re on your way out! What now? • Return your flat to the condition it was before you moved in and: - Remove all of your own possessions. - Clean and tidy the flat (you aren’t required to get carpets professionally cleaned, (unless you have to do so to get the house/flat into a state of reasonable wear and tear). - Remove all rubbish. - Ensure all landlord’s possessions remain. - Fix any damage that you caused – not fair wear and tear which is the landlord’s responsibility. • Arrange with the landlord to have a final property inspection. - If there are any issues, you could refer back to the photos you took at the start of the tenancy. - At the end of the inspection, you’ll have to also return any house keys you have. • Make sure you pay and cancel the power and internet, update your address (especially with IRD and banks), and ensure the landlord has a forwarding address for you. • The last thing you need to do if you are leaving the flat is have your bond refunded. This form may be supplied by the landlord or you can find it on the Tenancy Services website. You won’t get your old bond back before you move into your new flat – so think about that when you are planning your move.
USEFUL RESOURCES THE DICTIONARY OF FLATTING LANGUAGE Bond 1. A rental bond is a security deposit a tenant pays at the start of a tenancy. It is held by Tenancy Services and can be used to cover unpaid rent, damage to the property (if it’s the tenant’s fault) or any claim relating to the tenancy. It must be lodged by the landlord with Tenancy Services within 23-working days using a bond lodgement form. The bond is usually the cost of four-weeks rent. Contents insurance 1. See ‘Insurance’ 2. Insurance that pays for damage to, or loss of an individual’s personal possessions while they’re located within that individual’s home. Discrimination 1. Where someone is treated unfairly or less favourably than another person in the same or similar circumstances. It is unlawful if a landlord breaches a clause in the Human Rights Act 1993, or uses one of the clauses for deciding to grant accommodation or continuing a tenancy. Flat 1. Any shared rental accommodation. Flatmate 1. A person with whom one shares a flat. 2. A person whose name may or may not be on the tenancy agreement. They may or may not have a flat sharing agreement with existing tenants. If not on the agreement, they have different rights than tenants, usually agreed to with the head tenant. ‘Flatmates’ is used interchangeably, but there is a legal difference between flatmates on your agreement, and flatmates who are not. 37
Insurance 1. A arrangement by which a company provides a guarantee of compensation in return for a premium payment. It can be used to protect house contents and liability for damage to the landlord’s property; see ‘Contents Insurance’. Get a contents insurance policy to protect your belongings and a personal liability policy to protect you from any careless damage you or your guests may cause to a property. Key money 1. Money asked for by the landlord for granting a lease, making changes to a lease, extending/ renewing a lease or approving subletting. This isn’t allowed unless the landlord has prior consent from the Tribunal. Note: There is a difference between key money and a letting fee – see below. Landlord 1. A person or organisation that owns and leases land, buildings, or apartments. Lease 1. A contract for the possession of land for a specified period, in exchange for rent or other compensation. Letting Fee 1. A fee paid to a property manager to cover the costs of setting up a tenancy. Usually one week’s rent plus GST and payable by the tenant at the beginning of a tenancy. This is allowed under the Residential Tenancies Act but only letting agents or a landlord’s solicitor are allowed to charge this fee. Option fee 1. Money given to a landlord to hold the property while they decide whether or not to rent it. Also known as ‘key money’, and the maximum amount a tenant can be charged is one week’s rent. Pre-tenancy Application 1. A form that sets out the details and important information of potential tenants to help landlords decide who the tenancy best suits.
Property Inspection Report 1. A form that asks you to record the condition of various areas of a property and list any furniture or other chattels (is included in the Tenancy Services Tenancy Agreement). 2. A document that can be used in future disputes or claims as evidence. Property Manager 1. A person or firm that finds tenants and maintains a property for a fee, for the owner. References 1. Person/s whom the landlord has permission to contact, and assess a potential tenantâ€™s credit worthiness or good character. Rent 1. Money paid by the tenant for the right to live in a property. It does not include any money paid or owing as a bond. Rent in Advance 1. A landlord can ask for 1 or 2 weeks rent in advance. This depends on whether the tenant will pay weekly (1-week in advance) or fortnightly (2-weeks in advance). Tenancy 1. Possession of land or property as a tenant. 2. Synonyms: Occupancy, habitation.
Tenancy agreement 1. Agreement between a landlord and their tenant/s for the lease of a property. Tenant 1. A person who leases/rents a premise from a landlord and has signed a Tenancy Agreement.
USEFUL LINKS VICTORIA STUDENT FINANCE ADVISORS P: 04-463 6644 or 04-463 6658 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: victoria.ac.nz/finadvice TENANCY SERVICES tenancy.govt.nz Calling is free within New Zealand. Open from 8.00am - 5.30pm, Monday to Thursday. On Fridays open from 9.00am - 5.30pm 0800 836 262 (0800 TENANCY) BOND 0800 737 666 Please have your bond number ready when you call For students with English as an additional language, Tenancy Services has free language ines with interpreters in 43 different languages. They also have video relay services for deaf and hearing impaired individiuals. COMMUNITY LAW Community Law provides free legal advice and has offices in Wellington and Lower Hutt. communitylaw.org.nz WELLINGTON A: Southmark House, Level 8, 203 Willis Street, Wellington P: (04) 499 2928 E: email@example.com W: wclc.org.nz 40
CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU Citizens Advice Bureau provides free and confidential advice to everyone. We take the time to listen to you and equip you with the information, options and support that fit your needs. W: www.cab.org.nz P: 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222) Central Wellington’s Citizens Advice Bureau is found on the Mezzanine Floor of the Central Library A: 65 Victoria Street E: firstname.lastname@example.org P: 04 472 2466 VUWSA ADVOCACY SERVICE VUWSA’s Advocacy Service provides independent, informal and confidential information, support and advice to students at Victoria University of Wellington W: vuwsa.org.nz/advocacy E: email@example.com P: 04 463 6984
Welfare Vice President VUWSA
Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer VUWSA
Communications Manager VUWSA
Volunteer Wellington CJP
Volunteer Wellington CJP
Volunteer Wellington CJP
Kate Nickelchok Student Advocate VUWSA
Emily Totman Volunteer Wellington CJP
Volunteer Wellington CJP
Special thanks to Rose Goss and Louise Brazier for legal checking this handbook. 42
Keeping it real This handbook was printed with vegetable-based inks, on environmentally sustainable paper, and is FSC approved.
KYR HANDBOOK 2016