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Photo: Aerial view of Porirua East 1969 by Archives New Zealand

Getting your paperwork in order before a tenancy starts sets the tone for the tenancy, prevents misunderstandings, and makes sure everything is done the right way.

There are 4 main documents you need to start a new tenancy:

  • Pre-tenancy application (Optional)
  • Tenancy agreement
  • Property inspection report
  • Bond lodgement forms

Pre-tenancy application (Optional)

Pre-tenancy applications are used by the landlord to collect information so they can determine if prospective tenats are right for the property. Requested information could include reference checks and background checks. Some landlords are very thorough with this and other landlords have less formal methods of determining a tenant's suitability - when you're entrusting one of your biggest assets to another person, you want to be sure you've made the right decision!

If you are collecting personal information about a prospective tenant, it is important that you respect the Privacy Act 1993. Requirements of the Privacy Act include:
- you can only use the information for the purposes that it was collected for
- you need to disclose what the information is going to be used for and who it will be shared with
- must keep the information secure and you must give the tenant access to the information if they request it

Therefore, if you are collecting information for tenancy checks, it is highly advisable you collect this information through a formal written declaration. This gives protection to and understanding for both the tenant and landlord. You can download a free tenancy application from Tenancy Services.

Tenants should read the pre-tenancy application form and understand the intended use before providing their information to the landlord. If it is not clear, then it is your right to request further clarification.

Uploading your tenancy application form onto myRent helps the landlord comply with the Privacy Act by ensuring its secure storage and access for the tenant. It's also convenient to have all your tenancy documents stored in a single location in case they are needed in the future.

Option fees: Sometimes called a holding deposit, an option fee is a fee paid by the tenant to take the property off the market. You cannot charge any more than 1 weeks rent and that money is applied towards the first weeks rent if the tenancy goes ahead, or can be refunded to the tenant. If the tenant chooses not to go ahead with the tenancy then they forfeit this fee. However, if the landlord chooses not to go ahead with that tenant, then this fee must be returned to the tenant. Ultimately, however, the only real security for a tenant that the tenancy is going ahead is a signed tenancy agreement.

Other fees: Most other types of pre-tenancy fees or payments are unlawful, such as key money.

Tenancy agreement

In all residential tenancies, the landlord is required to provide the tenant a written tenancy agreement before the tenancy starts. The Residential Tenancy Act sets out the minimum standard terms that must be contained in all tenancy agreements. Neither a landlord or tenant can remove these terms or create additional terms that are inconsistent with the standard terms. Both parties should check the agreement carefully before signing - once signed, you will be legally bound to those terms as landlord or tenant.

A free tenancy agreement from Tenancy Service can be downloaded here.

Since July 2016, Landlords are also required to disclose and meet standards for insulation within the property. Further details about your obligations can be found here.

Any changes in contact details by the landlord or tenant must be provided to the other party within 10 working days.

Property inspection report

A property inspection report is used to record the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy to determine if any damage beyond fair wear and tear has occurred during the tenancy. As a landlord you should always prepare a condition report because it is the easiest and most reliable way to claim any damages from the tenants bond. It also gives tenants protection against landlord claiming damage that was present before they move in.

The landlord and tenant need to inspect the property and date and sign the inspection report. A free inspection report template can be found here. It is also highly advisable to take photos and videos of all rooms in the property, especially the ceilings, floors, carpets, and any fixtures or fittings to accurately record their condition at the beginning of the tenancy.

Uploading the inspection report and any photos into the myRent app means that both the tenant and the landlord can access the documents and a 3rd party can verify the date of those documents if they are ever needed in a dispute.

Bond lodgement forms

A bond is the money collected and paid by the tenant at the request of the landlord as security against damage to the property or non-payment of rent. This money belongs to the tenant until the landlord makes a successful claim for unpaid rent or damage to the property. To protect the tenant, the bond must be registered by either the landlord or tenant with Tenancy Services within 23 days. The maximum bond a landlord is allowed to charge is 4 weeks rent.

To lodge a bond:

  1. Complete this form and have it signed by both the tenant and the landlord
  2. The landlord (if they have already collected the bond) or the tenant if they are paying the bond directly should complete the online form and payment including attaching the signed form from step 1.
  3. Both the landlord and the tenant will receive confirmation from Tenancy Services to the email address provided.

It is very important to keep Tenancy Services up-to-date with any changes in tenants, landlord or tenants contact details.

When you use myRent 1% Property Management service, we walk you through Tenancy Agreement creation and assist with bond lodgement. We use modern systems to create and e-sign documents, collect money and lodge bonds. We deal with the paperwork while keeping you informed, so you can concentrate on other things that you love doing.

The information contained in this article is exclusively for promotional purposes. It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as the basis for any legal action or contractual dealings. The information is not, and does not attempt to be, a comprehensive account of the relevant law in New Zealand. If you require legal advice you should seek independent legal counsel. myRent.co.nz does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.

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