There are more than 550,000* rental properties scattered throughout New Zealand, so it makes sense that as the market grows landlords better understand their rights and responsibilities. With this in mind, AA Insurance has put together a few tips to help make the property investment journey a smoother one.
1. Your insurance policy will often set out landlord obligations that must be met to ensure that insurance cover is in place. Meeting these obligations also helps to protect your investment. Start by exercising reasonable care when choosing tenants, and obtaining satisfactory references.
Next, collect up to two weeks’ rent in advance, and register up to four weeks’ rent as bond with the Tenancy Services. Under AA Insurance’s landlord cover, you’re obliged to monitor and manage rent in arrears, and conduct regular internal and external property inspections with a written record of the outcome. Inspections are a good way to keep on top of any issues, necessary repairs, or potential problems.
2. The onus is on you to keep your rental home in good repair, ensure it’s secure and take all reasonable precautions to prevent loss occurring. This means conducting any necessary repairs in a timely fashion, providing and maintaining locks and other security mechanisms, as well as maintaining smoke alarms. Not sure where to place the smoke alarms? Then check out the Fire Service website at fire.org.nz.
From 1 July 2016 landlords also need to have working smoke alarms installed in all residential rental homes. They’ll also be required to have insulation to keep the home warm in winter and cool in summer (private rentals by 1 July 2019). For more details about what and when it’s required visit tenancy.govt.nz
3. If you’re about to purchase a rental, then do your due diligence and ask the owner or the agent if the property has been tested for drug contamination, and ask to see the results. If no test has been carried out, get one done yourself. If you already own a rental then consider including this type of test in your property inspections. There’s more information about this on the Tenancy Services website.
4. If you need to make a claim, don’t delay. Don’t mistakenly store up incidents to make a single claim once the tenants move out because, unless all the damage has occurred during the same event, you’ll need to make separate claims for each event causing damage, with one excess applying per event.
5. Finally, make sure you have the right insurance for your circumstances. Loss of rent and natural disasters are generally available under standard cover, but check with your insurer for optional benefits, like AA Insurance’s landlord cover for tenants who vacate without notice, are evicted, cause intentional or malicious damage, or who use, consume, store or manufacture illegal drugs.
*Statistics from Glasshouse: An investigation into landlord insurance (March 2015), from an online interview with 248 owners of residential rental properties.
This is intended for informational purposes only. You should not rely upon this information as a substitute for advice. If you would like to talk to someone about your personal situation, we recommend that you seek advice from a professional or from any of the agencies listed in this article.