Letting fees

Question from Alex updated on 11th October 2017:

I've moved out of an apartment two weeks ago and am waiting on my bond refund. I have a few questions about what I am entitled to.

I rented the property through a real estate manager. My weekly rent was $580. This means my letting fee should have been $580 +15% which is $667. I paid $759, a $92 difference. The letting fee was used to secure the property.

"Next step is for you to secure the apartment till the move in date by putting a deposit down. Please make a payment of letting fee and GST ($759.00) today in order for us to withdraw the property from the market."

I know I am definitely entitled to the $92 back, but am I entitled to the rest of the letting fee too?

Also, in the apartment there were absolutely no smoke alarms nor any sign there ever had been. Is there anything I can get from this due to the health and safety risk?

Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, a letting fee may be charged by a letting agent to grant or assign a tenancy. The Act does not specify the amount that may be charged as a letting fee, therefore it can vary, but it is normally one week's rent plus GST.

As of 1 July 2016, all landlords must have working smoke alarms installed in their properties. If not, landlords may be liable to pay exemplary damages for failing to meet their obligations. If you cannot see smoke alarms you should check with the landlord or a building manager, as some apartments may have a hardwired smoke alarm system installed, which may look different.

Information regarding letting fees, smoke alarms, and resolving breaches can be viewed on our website www.tenancy.govt.nz

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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