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New Zealand Housing

Houses In New Zealand

Housing in New Zealand can vary greatly in size, finish and style. There are grand old character villas that are wood clad, quite fancy with verandas, balustrades, reminiscent of days gone by. There are small cottages that are similarly clad in wood, then more modern styles with cleaner lines and often brick clad. One thing that a lot of houses have in common is that they have a wooden frame and there’s a very good reason for that. New Zealand, being earthquake prone, needs housing that can flex with the movement of the earth beneath it and wooden framework fits the bill. It’s also not quite so traumatic as a solid brick wall when it falls on your head.
When a house is built, particularly a modern one, it is often on a sturdy concrete slab upon which the framework is erected. Some of the older houses are built on wooden pile foundations which can be prone to rotting or sagging. The inner walls are usually lathe and plaster or gib board which, if you’re lucky, will have insulation behind it and then comes the outer cladding which can be weatherboard, Hardiplank (wood fibre, silica, sand and cement), concrete block, linear board (looks like weatherboard but longer lasting), stone, bricks, stucco, so there’s a good choice. Roofs can be pressed steal which is painted, tiles, slates or artificial but realistic looking tiles which are flexible.
Housing tends to be more expensive when it’s near the sea or in and around the cities. Rural homes can be quite a bit cheaper or you get more land for your money. House-buying can be relatively simple in New Zealand. You find a house that you like, put in an offer with the agent who will pass it on to the vendor. An offer for property must be in writing and signed by both parties to indicate their willingness to enter into a contract. All the negotiations take place on paper. Nothing is done verbally. The offer document is also the contract form, once all the parties agree on the conditions and sign it, the contract becomes formal and you are committed to buy the property. Do not sign an offer if you do not want to buy the house!
Before you place an offer, you have the option of it being conditional on various repairs or work being done to the property, if you feel there are problems that need rectifying, or you can go unconditional if you are happy with it. A deposit, usually 10%, is handed over and kept for 10 days to comply with legislation. Once the contract is unconditional the deposit money will be paid to the vendor’s lawyer. You would be wise to use a lawyer to attend to all the paperwork and legal matters and, all being well, a short time after this you could move into your new home. This is very simply put, but that’s the general idea, and the one positive point about buying property in NZ is that there is no stamp duty.
Before a tenant moves in, the landlord and tenant should complete and sign a tenancy agreement, setting out the key things the landlord and tenant agree to do and the landlord must give the tenant a copy before the tenancy begins.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act, all tenancies entered into after 1 December 1996 must have a written tenancy agreement, which must include the following.
  • The names and addresses of the landlord and tenant.
  • The address of the property.
  • The date the tenancy agreement is signed.
  • The date the tenancy is to begin.
  • Addresses for service for both the landlord and the tenant.
  • Whether the tenant is under the age of 18.
  • The rent amount and frequency of payments.
  • The amount of any bond.
  • The place or bank account number where the rent is to be paid.
  • Any fees (real estate or lawyer’s) to be paid (if applicable).
  • A statement (if applicable) that the tenant is to pay for metered water.
  • A list of any chattels (like furniture, curtains and other fittings) provided by the landlord.
  • The type of tenancy and the date the tenancy will end if it is a fixed-term tenancy.
There are two main kinds of tenancies – periodic and fixed-term. A third, less common type, is a service tenancy. A periodic tenancy is one that is not for a specific term.and is the most common form of tenancy. It continues until the landlord or tenant gives the correct notice to end it. A fixed-term tenancy finishes on a specific date set down in the written tenancy agreement. There is no provision for either the landlord or the tenant to give notice to quit. A service tenancy is where an employer provides an employee with a property to live in during their period of employment. In a service tenancy, the tenancy usually ends when the employment ends, and the employer has given 2 weeks’ notice to quit the house. When deciding what sort of tenancy will best suit your needs, both landlord and tenant should be aware of what their obligations are under the tenancy.