Tips for finding a rental property

Get advice on Wellington’s rental market—where to look for flats, the costs, property viewings, and your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

The rental market is very competitive in Wellington and January to March are the busiest months when many students are looking, so allow plenty of time to find somewhere to live.

We recommend you do not sign a tenancy agreement without viewing a property in person. If you are moving to Wellington, we suggest you book temporary accommodation for your arrival and then look. Landlords and people looking for flatmates will expect to meet you in person, and for those coming from overseas, to have a New Zealand mobile number.

Where to look

Searching online is the best way to find a property or room to rent, or to find flatmates:

Other options are:

  • noticeboards around campus
  • asking your friends. Landlords often prefer to let to someone referred by an existing tenant rather than go through the hassle of viewings.

Consider the costs

Rent is variable as it depends on the type of property and its condition, number of rooms, and distance from the city. The Tenancy Services website gives an idea of typical rents in different areas.

If you live in the suburbs, think about transport costs and the time it will take to get to campus.

Keep in mind the set-up costs of flatting. These include a bond (usually two weeks’ rent but can be up to four weeks’ rent), two weeks' rent in advance, and connection charges, such as electricity, gas, internet, and telephone. You may also have to buy or hire furniture and appliances as furnished accommodation can be difficult to find and relatively expensive.

Explore our resources to get help with managing your money while flatting.

Be organised

Being organised is important as often the rental process moves very fast. It is a good idea to have your references and bond sorted before you attend a property viewing, and bring any pens, ID, and information you think you may need. If you have lived in a hall of residence, they will usually provide you with a reference on request. Many flat hunters treat a viewing like a job interview.

Know your rights and responsibilities

When you sign a tenancy agreement (lease), normally fixed for 12 months but could be shorter or a periodic tenancy, you need to be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant—find out about starting a tenancy.

If you join a shared house as a flatmate, there are differences between being a tenant and a flatmate.

VUWSA provides a flatting guide with documents and contact details if you need help with flatting issues.