Renting in Christchurch
Since the Canterbury earthquakes, more people have been renting while their properties are repaired, and extra workers have moved into the region. This has put pressure on the number of rental homes available and made it more expensive than normal to rent in Christchurch.
Even though Christchurch rents are high, New Zealand has laws that protect you from paying more than you should. The law also ensures the house you’re living in is comfortable, clean and safe.
Here is some useful information on what to expect when renting in New Zealand. Remember, if something doesn’t feel right about your accommodation, it’s ok to ask for help.
What to expect when renting in New Zealand
If you are renting in New Zealand you are a tenant and the person who is providing the accommodation is your landlord.
The rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants are governed by the Residential Tenancies Act. The Act ensures landlords provide a home that is clean, comfortable and safe,
and that tenants take care of the home and pay for anything that gets damaged or goes missing.
If your employer provides accommodation for you as part of your employment contract, they become your landlord and you are their tenant. This is called a ‘Service Tenancy’ and is covered by the Residential Tenancies Act.
If you are sharing a house and its facilities (including the kitchen and bathroom) with at least six other people, you may be living in a boarding house. People in boarding houses have the same rights and responsibilities as other tenants.
If you have questions about your living arrangements, you can phone the Tenancy Advice Service for free on 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62).
Get it in writing
New Zealand law says that there must be a written contract between yourself and your landlord. This is called a Tenancy Agreement.
What is a tenancy agreement?
A tenancy agreement is a written agreement that you sign with your landlord before you move in so everyone knows what they have agreed to. You should get a copy from your landlord. The
tenancy agreement can include such information as how many people can live in the house.
You should also get in writing any agreement for money to be taken from your wages to cover your accommodation (see below for more information on when it’s ok for money to be deducted
from your wages).
If your employer is providing ongoing accommodation as part of your employment contract and this is explained in your employment agreement, there may not be a separate Tenancy
Agreement. However, you will still be protected by the Residential Tenancies Act.
Learn more about tenancy agreements at Tenancy Services.
How much rent should I be paying?
You should be paying no more than the current market rent for your accommodation.
Market rent is what a landlord might reasonably expect to get and a tenant might reasonably expect to pay for a house or room. Your rental should be roughly the same as rent charged for other properties that are similar in type, size and location.
The best way to check if you are paying the right amount of rent is by asking other people living in similar homes.
If you think you’re paying more than you should, or you’re not sure, call the Tenancy Advice Service for free on 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62).
Quality of accommodation
New Zealand has standards for all houses, including boarding houses, which must be met. The standards include:
- Room sizes
- Lighting and ventilation
- Living rooms (with an approved form of heating)
- Kitchens (approved sink and tap, storage, preparing, baking and boiling food)
- Bathrooms (bath or shower and water heating)
- Drainage, sewerage and dampness
- Weather-tightness and durability
- Maintenance and repair
When moving into rented accommodation, you should expect:
- The property to be reasonably clean and tidy
- The plumbing, electrical wiring to be working and the structure of the building to be safe
- All the locks to be working and the property to be reasonably secure
- There to be enough water and toilets
- The home to be dry with enough heating
- There to be a kitchen suitable for preparing food.
What should I do if my home doesn’t have these things?
Before you sign a Tenancy Agreement, talk to the landlord to make sure the house meets your needs.
If you find after you move in that the house doesn’t have what was agreed to, ask your landlord to make improvements. Make sure you do this in writing. If the landlord ignores your request,
you can get the Tenancy Tribunal (the Tribunal) to make sure the work is done.
The Tenancy Tribunal
The Tribunal can make decisions about problems that landlords and tenants can’t settle themselves.
If you want to know more about the Tribunal, when and why you should seek its help, visit Tenancy Services or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62).
Can my employer take money from my wages to pay for my accommodation?
Your employer generally can’t take money from your wages.
They can only do this if:
- You’ve agreed to the deduction in writing or they are required by law to make the deduction. You can vary or withdraw your agreement by giving notice in writing at any time. Your employer must then vary or stop the deductions within two weeks of receiving the written notice or as soon as is practical.
- If your employer is providing you with board and lodging, the costs of the board or lodging may be deducted according to an agreed amount. If the amount is not fixed, the employer may deduct no more than 15% for board, or no more than 5% for lodging.
If you think your employment rights have been breached call the Ministry on 0800 20 90 20.
Where can I get help in Christchurch if I have a problem with my living arrangements?
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides tenancy advice and information services for people renting in
Christchurch. You can find their contact details on their website.
Other organisations also provide advice and/or advocacy services to tenants in Christchurch. The main one is the Tenants’ Protection Association.
Other useful organisations include the Community Law Centre (phone 366 6870 to speak to someone or to make an appointment) and the Citizens Advice Bureau. Phone 366-6490 to speak to someone or to find an office near to you.
The information on this page is just a summary. To learn more, visit: