Other renting costs 

Can I be charged any other costs in addition to bond and rent?

Landlords are not generally allowed to ask for ‘key money’ (i.e. for things like granting or renewing the tenancy) but there are some things you can be charged for. For example, you can be charged:

  • an option fee - this is used as deposit and must be refunded or used as rent if you take the property. It should amount to no more than one week's rent. 
  • any related lawyers’ fees, which can extend to drawing up the tenancy agreement.

Until 12 December 2018 a property manager or letting agent could charge tenants a letting fee - a commission for arranging the tenancy.  

Back to top

Is the tenant responsible for paying the Council rates on the rented property?

The landlord is responsible for paying property rates, house insurance (not contents insurance for your personal belongings), land taxes, water rates and other expenses that would be incurred whether or not the property was tenanted. 

The tenant has to pay for things like power, gas and telephone charges. The tenant can be charged for water usage if the water company charges separately for water, and there is a water meter to record usage. Note that the landlord is responsible for any fixed water fees.

Back to top

Can real estate agents charge a letting fee?

Until 12 December 2018, when it became unlawful to charge a tenant a letting fee, property managers and other letting agents (but not the landlord) were allowed by law to charge a non-refundable fee (amounting to up to one week’s rent plus GST) for setting up a tenancy agreement. This is usually referred to as a  letting fee.

Back to top

A smoke alarm in our apartment building went off and the fire service turned up, but it turned out to be a false alarm. Apparently the fire service is charging a call-out fee - who has to pay it?

The New Zealand Fire Service can charge a call-out fee for a false alarm; usually if there have already been two false alarms to that property in the last 12 months. The fee is around $1000 plus GST, and goes towards the cost of sending out a team of fire fighters and a fire truck. This charge is also meant to deter people from causing false alarms.

Note that the property owner can dispute a callout charge from the New Zealand Fire Service, by contacting the False Alarm Administrator by phone (04 496 3708) fax (04 471 1791) or email (fa@fire.org.nz ). More about these charges is on the New Zealand Fire Service website.

Generally it is the building owner who will receive the bill. If the building is a rental property and the false alarm was caused by a tenant (e.g. because the tenant tampered with the smoke alarm or smoked inside the apartment) then the landlord is entitled to pass the fee on to the tenant.

However, if the false alarm was the fault of the landlord (e.g. the landlord did not keep the smoke alarms in good condition) then the landlord is probably liable for this fee.

You can check your tenancy agreement (and the body corporate rules, if you live in an apartment) for how false alarms (including security alarms) will be charged.

Back to top

I burnt the kitchen of my flat. The landlord had it fixed, but his insurer has sent me a bill for it all. What do I do?

As the tenant you are generally only responsible for repairing damage you cause intentionally or as a result of an offence that is punishable by a prison sentence. If either of these is the case, you could be pursued by your landlord or their insurer for the costs of repair to the kitchen.

If you believe you should not have to pay the costs of repair, you can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal.

Depending on the specific circumstances of the case, the Tenancy Tribunal can decide who is liable for these costs. 

You can find more information about liability for damage to a rental property on our Tenant & landlord issues page.

Back to top

My tenant complained that something was wrong with the stove in the house, but the electrical contractor checked the stove and found nothing wrong with it. The tenant is refusing to pay the call-out fee.

Whether the tenant or the landlord should pay the call-out fee will depend on the specific situation, and can be decided by the Tenancy Tribunal.

If you believe the tenant should pay, you can issue them with a 14-day notice to pay this amount. If your tenant disagrees with you they can make a claim at the Tenancy Tribunal.