Each week, the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking The Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's how to guard your pennies if you're renting your house. Hosted by Frances Cook.

If it's not enough that many people are locked out of the housing market, now even renters are feeling the squeeze.

Our housing problems have led to higher rents, and those costs are seeping outside of the main centres of Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.

Trade Me's Property Report shows rents in the regions have gone up 20 per cent in the past three years. On average, it'll now cost you an extra $3000 a year.

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Add that to the list of things making it harder for people to save and get ahead.

How can you save to buy your own house when it costs you more every day to pay off someone else's mortgage?

For the most part, renters are stuck. When there's stiff competition, you can't exactly negotiate a lower rent.

But knowledge is power, and if you know your renting rights, there are places where you can save some extra cash.

I turned to Kayla Healey from Renters United, to share her tips for the latest Cooking the Books podcast.

She said that housing supply was low, so many renters were being forced to take what they could get.

"What's really interesting about these rent increases is that the housing stock isn't improving.

"Landlords aren't necessarily improving the properties or doing anything that justifies these rent increases."

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However, there were some things renters could keep an eye on, right from when the first.

When it comes to a letting fee, property managers can legally charge one, but private landlords can't.

Healey also warned that bond was capped at four weeks' rent.

"Another thing we're seeing at the moment is bonds for pets or bonds for other types of security. They're not legal.

"You shouldn't have to pay any other bond that's not the initial four weeks bond.

"Sometimes chattels, people will say 'you've got to pay a bit of extra rent to cover the security of my lawnmower'.

"But that's not legal."

When you do eventually find a house to rent, there are still areas to watch out for.

Although rents are rising around the country, your landlord can't raise them too often.

They need to wait 180 days from when you first move into a house, and 180 days after any other rent rises.

If you're on a fixed-term tenancy, check your rental agreement. If the landlord wants to raise the rent there needs to be a clause in your agreement allowing that within the term of the tenancy.

When it comes to moving out, the landlord can't try to charge you for normal wear and tear of a house, such as carpet wear.

"If things go really wrong, say you're in a situation where you've kept paying rent but your home is no longer habitable.

"There are some circumstances where the Tenancy Tribunal will give you backdated rent, or backdated rent reductions.

For the full interview, listen to the podcast.

If you have renting tips you want to share, or questions about the podcast, get in touch.
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