31 January 2018

If you are a student looking for a rental it is worth discussing upfront with your prospective landlord where you stand on the topic of a shorter term lease or ending a fixed-term lease early.

Fixed-term tenancy agreements are usually for six or 12 months. However, many students only want to rent for the academic year (usually February to November) which can cause issues when they want to end the tenancy early to avoid paying rent over summer when they are not there.

It’s important to remember that student tenancies are covered by all the same rules as other tenancies and that all tenants are legally obliged to fulfil the full length of their fixed-term agreement. You can reference our Ending a fixed-term early page for more information.

All new tenancies must have a written tenancy agreement - signed by both landlord and tenants - setting out important details, including:

  • full names and contact addresses
  • address of the rental property
  • date tenancy begins - and ends, if it’s for a fixed term
  • bond to be paid, if any
  • rent amount and frequency of payments
  • any chattels provided by the landlord, eg furniture or appliances
  • information about insulation in the ceilings, floors and/or walls.

Any conditions added by the landlord must not be in conflict with the Residential Tenancies Act.

For many student renters, it may be their first time living away from home. They might not be familiar with how to keep a home healthy, eg:

  • drying clothes outside where possible to minimise moisture in the property
  • opening windows to allow ventilation and avoid dampness and mould
  • opening curtains during the day to let sunlight in and closing them once the sun goes down to help keep warmth in
  • knowing what days to put rubbish and recycling out
  • mowing, weeding and watering a garden or lawn, if there is one

At the start of the tenancy, landlords should provide advice and be clear about their expectations on what tenants will need to do to keep the property in good condition, what’s acceptable and what’s not, and what tenants will be taking responsibility for. Since July 2016 landlords are required by law to install working smoke alarms at the start of all new tenancies, and to locate them in the right places. They should also ensure that if they install new smoke alarms at the start of a tenancy that they are photo-electronic long-life battery ones.

It is the responsibility of the tenants to change smoke alarm batteries if they run out during their tenancy. It is also illegal for tenants to remove or tamper with smoke alarms installed by their landlord.

The easiest way to make sure your rental agreement covers all the legal requirements - including an insulation statement - is to use the Residential Tenancy Agreement template [PDF, 1 MB] [PDF, 1.2 MB] on the Tenancy Services website.

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