5 questions to ask before renting a home 

Looking for a new rental property can be stressful, but it isn’t something you should rush into. 

When you find a place that feels like ‘the one’, make sure you’ve got all the information you need before signing on the dotted line.

Here are five questions rookie renters forget to ask.

1. Is it insulated?

From 1 July 2019, ceiling and underfloor insulation is compulsory in all rental homes, where it is reasonably practicable to install.

Ask the landlord or property manager about any insulation that’s currently installed and whether it meets the regulations required by the Residential Tenancies Act. When signing a lease, the landlord or property manager must now provide you with an insulation statement that details this. 

If the home’s insulation isn’t up to scratch, ask about the landlord’s plans to fix this – and when.  

2. Is the property warm, dry and energy efficient?

Especially if you’re looking at a house during the warmer months, it can be easy to overlook things like heating sources. 

Find out if the home comes with a heat pump, ventilation system, gas heating, fireplace - or none of these. Have a look at the state of the curtains and whether these are thick or thermally lined.

Check if there are extractor fans in the bathroom and kitchen. Ask the landlord or property manager whether these are vented outside (they shouldn’t be vented into the roof space). 

While these features will help prevent damp and mould developing in a home, remember it’s important to ventilate the house by opening doors and windows every day. 

You can also take a look at HomeFit, an initiative launched by the New Zealand Green Building Council. HomeFit provides a free online check which Kiwis can use to find out how warm, safe, efficient and dry a property is – an easy way for you as a renter to know the ins and outs of your property. Find out more about HomeFit here.

3. Can I read over the lease before I sign it?

A lease is a legally binding document, so you should take care before signing it. It’s important to understand your responsibilities and obligations, especially if you’re signing a 12-month lease. Don’t be afraid to take away the document so you can read it over thoroughly yourself, and feel free to consult with trusted and experienced friends and family if you’re unsure of anything inside.

 All rental arrangements should include a written lease. If your landlord tries to have you move in without a formal lease, you should definitely question this. The lease is an important document that should be signed by both parties.

4. Does the house come with whiteware or furniture?

Some landlords provide whiteware such as a washing machine and fridge. If the home doesn’t come with these, and you don’t already own whiteware, purchasing your own goods can be a sizeable hit to the wallet. 

On the other hand, if you’ve got a fridge and washing machine to bring with you, don’t be afraid to ask the landlord or property manager if they’d consider removing the appliances so you can use your own. 

Rental properties also sometimes come furnished. If so, ask the landlord or property manager to point out what’s included with the home.

5. Can you please fix this problem?

If you spot an issue with a home, you should notify the landlord or property manager immediately. It’s in the landlord’s best interest to keep the house well-maintained and they’ll appreciate you letting them know promptly.

When you move in, document and take photos of any issues with the home and email them to the landlord or property manager. 

These might prove helpful later on, when it comes time to move out, if you need to show that the issue (such as a stain on the carpet) was already there when you moved in. 

Once you’ve got answers to these five questions, hopefully you’ll be feeling informed and confident to sign on the dotted line for your new rental property. 

If you need any more rental advice, or tips and tricks to make your new place feel like home, check out our rental blogs here.

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