Property Management

14 min read

How long does it take to find a tenant?

Finding a tenant is the same for every property: list it on Trade Me, show the tenants the property, check their references, approve the tenants, and the tenants move in. But, of course, how quickly your specific property rents depends on several factors...


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Every new property investor wants to know how long it’ll take to find a tenant.

But, of course, how quickly your specific property rents depends on several factors.

Sure, the process finding a tenant is the same for every property: list it on Trade Me, show the tenants the property, check their references, approve the tenants, and the tenants move in.

But there are a lot of things along the way that can slow things down.

So, in this article, you’ll learn:

  • how long it takes to find a tenant
  • the process of finding a tenant
  • The factors that slow down finding a tenant
  • how to speed up the process of finding a tenant
Quick facts:

It can take anywhere from 1-8+ weeks to find a tenant for your property

However, it usually takes 3-5 weeks to find a tenant (from listing the property online to the tenant moving in)

That is broken down into 1-2 weeks to go from listing the property online to signing the tenancy agreement and another 2-3 weeks for that tenant to move in

However, that doesn’t mean your property will sit empty for 3-5 weeks. You can start advertising the property before your current tenants move out

The time it takes to find a tenant depends on several factors, as outlined in this article

How do I find a tenant for my property?

It usually takes between 2 and 4 weeks to find a tenant for your property (on average). But, there are instances where it takes much longer (up to 8 weeks).

The first step in finding a tenant is listing the property online. At a minimum, your property manager should list the property on Trade Me and

The next step is getting people in to view the property. Usually, you’ll hold group viewings (effectively open homes for tenants). From this, some tenants will apply to tenant the property.

Your property manager will then review the applications to choose a few to do more checks on. This includes checking all references, ensuring the would-be tenant can afford the rent, and that they don’t have a record of bad behaviour.

Once your property manager has identified the best tenant, they will confirm they’re moving ahead with the tenant’s application.

If the tenant is still interested, a moving-in date is set. In a moderate rental market (neither hot nor cold), this will take 1-2 weeks to complete.

It usually takes another 2-3 weeks before the tenant moves in.

How long does it take to get a tenant?

As mentioned earlier, it takes an average of 2-4 weeks to find a tenant. However, this changes frequently.

I must emphasise this. Sometimes landlords read this article and say, “But my property is taking 6 weeks to rent … but you said it takes 2-4 weeks.”

Yes, while the average is 2-4 weeks (depending on the market), that doesn’t mean your property will rent within that time frame. It could rent more quickly, although it could rent more slowly.

Here are two case studies to show a situation where a tenant was found quickly and another when it took longer to find a tenant.

Example #1 – “I found a tenant in a week”

A property manager I spoke to said she once had a property where the tenant signed a contract and moved in within a week. This is about as fast as it can possibly be.

In this example it was a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom property in Halswell, Christchurch. It took 7 days to put the property online, conduct the viewings, vet the tenants, sign the legally binding document, and for the tenants to move in.

This property was rented quickly because there were no comparable properties at the time.

Ten people came through to the viewing, and there were 8 applications made that day.

The tenants had signed the agreement on Friday and moved in the following Monday.

You could do it a wee bit faster, for example, if you rented the property “sight unseen”. That’s where the tenant doesn’t even view the property in person.

But I recommend against this because tenants are more likely to give notice and leave early. In this case, they sometimes think,This house isn’t what I thought it was.”

So the absolute best case scenario is renting a property within a week. However, this is NOT the standard scenario.

This is just an example of how quickly the rental market can move.

Example #2 – “I went two months without a tenant”

However, there is also an example of a property taking over 2 months to rent out. In this case, it was a 2 bed/1 bath townhouse in Waltham, Christchurch.

When a property takes this long to rent, there are usually a few reasons:

  • It was listed on December 27, when many people were away on holiday. This was an unfortunate and unavoidable situation. You don’t get to choose when your current tenant moves out, and if it’s close to Christmas, that’s tough luck
  • At the time, 58 other 2 bed/1 bath townhouses were listed on the market. So there was a lot of competition for not a lot of people looking for properties at that time
  • The first tenant “fell through” (more on this below), so we had to go through this process twice

In the case of this property, the property manager tried all the things they could to get the property tenanted.

For instance: doubling the number of viewings; improving the photos; promoting the advert on Trade Me. Even reducing the rent by $20 a week.

Initially, we had two sets of tenants wanting the property. But, when it came time to sign the agreement, the chosen set had rented another property instead.

At the time of writing, we have a tenant lined up for this property and are waiting for them to sign the agreement.

There was nothing wrong with the property itself. It is just unfortunate that:

  • the investor needed a tenant at the wrong time of the year
  • there were lots of properties on the market at the same time, and
  • several applications fell over.

Over the long term, this doesn’t make this property a bad investment. But this shows that not everything in property investment always goes right.

What slows the process of finding a tenant?

There are a few things that can slow down the process of finding a tenant:

A slow rental market

The market is the most crucial thing that will slow or speed up finding a tenant. It all depends on the following:

  • How many tenants are looking for properties (right now)
  • How many properties are available for rent (right now)

And as I’ll detail below, how hot (or cold) the market is changes quickly and frequently.

This isn’t something you – as a landlord – can necessarily control. But you do need to be aware of it.

Tenant application falls through

This rarely happens, but occasionally a property manager will accept an application from a tenant, then they’ll decide the property is not for them.

Just as you – as a landlord – will review applications from multiple tenants at a time … tenants also put applications on numerous properties at the same time.

Most of the time you’ll have a second or third applicant to offer the tenancy to.

But, if there’s only one application or multiple tenants fall through, you may need to start the process again. That means relaunching the listing and finding new applicants.

The tenant has to give a lot of notice to their current landlord

Some tenants can move into a property right away. Others need to give notice to their current landlord first.

In the second instance, some tenants must give their existing landlord 28 days’ notice. So, it may take them 3 weeks from signing the contract before they can move in.

As a side note, tenants often want some overlap between tenancies to give them a few days to shift.

If you already have tenants within your property

If you already have tenants living in your property your property manager needs to give them 48 hours’ notice before any viewing. This can add a few days to the process.

If the tenants’ references aren’t picking up the phone

If references are shy to pick up or return calls, this can add another day or 2.

If the tenant doesn’t pay the bond and move-in costs on time

Once your property manager accepts a tenant, the money (move-in costs) must be paid before the new tenant can move in.

So, let’s say the tenancy starts on the 16th. If the tenant hasn’t paid the move-in costs by the 16th, the move-in date must be pushed out by a few days.

If you, as the property investor, don’t accept the tenant

Sometimes landlords also slow down the process. I once had a landlord with only one application for their property.

The landlord wanted the tenant to move in within 2 weeks. They wanted the rent to start as soon as possible.

However, this tenant wanted to move in within 4 weeks as they needed to notify their current landlord.

The landlord asked me to re-advertise the property as they wanted a tenant to move in sooner.

But, in this example, that would mean they would be without a tenant for longer. That’s because this was the only application the landlord received.

What are some things that speed up the process of finding a tenant?

Here are some of the things (some of which you can do) that will speed up the process of finding a tenant.

1. A hot rental market

If there are a lot of tenants looking for properties (right now), but there aren’t that many properties available for rent (right now), then the market is hot.

It will not take long to find a tenant.

Again, this isn’t something you can control. But it’s the most significant factor that impacts how long it will take to find a tenant.

2. Follow your property manager’s advice

If you’ve got a property manager, you can speed everything up if you trust them to do their job well.

A property manager will have done all the checks on a prospective tenant (e.g. called all the references) and will have met them in person.

They will know who will be the best fit for your property and look at getting the right person in as soon as possible.

3. Don’t get too attached to a moving-in date

Some property investors say: “I want a tenant by February 7 and will live and die by that date. To them, this means giving a good tenant the boot if they can only move in on February 14.

But, by not accepting a tenant because you’d lose a week’s rent, you could wait many more weeks to find another tenant. Your property manager may need to start looking for new tenants from scratch.

4. Be willing to accept tenants with pets

Most rentals these days have a strict ‘no pets’ policy. This can be a mistake.

Many families have pets, and you probably will get tenants quicker if you don’t have this stipulation. That’s because you’ll have a wider pool of tenants interested in your property.

If you are going to accept pets, there are a few benefits.

For instance, if you accept a tenant without a pet, you can’t legally force them to pay to get the carpet professionally cleaned.

But, if you accept a tenant with a pet, you can require them to get the carpet cleaned and de-flead.

If you’re going to do this, you should also be mindful of what the pet is. There is a difference between a family with a rottweiler vs a family with a cat.

You also need to fit the pet to the property. You wouldn’t put a great dane in a 2-bedroom townhouse with a small courtyard.

5. Be available to give a quick answer to waiting tenants

Lastly, if you want to get tenants in quickly, you’ve got to be open to giving them a “yes” quickly.

Tenants are looking at several properties at once. This means if you take a few days to give them a “yes”, it’s likely they’ve already moved on in that time.

How often does the market change?

I mentioned before that the market is the most critical factor in determining how quickly you find a tenant.

The rental market changes from week to week. That’s not an exaggeration.

For instance, (at the time of writing) 4 weeks ago, there was a 4 bed/2 bath property available to rent in Rolleston.

Only 2 people came to the viewing, and 1 applied.

Two weeks later, a similar property had 8 people attend the viewing, and 5 applications followed.

Some properties will see 25 applications in a single day. Others will see none. It all depends.

Two to 3 years ago, things were more clear-cut. The market was busy in summer and quiet in winter.

Now, it’s week to week. Some weeks are hectic, others are quiet.

While your property manager will do their best to work with the market they have investors need to be aware the market will sometimes be quiet.

So how long does it take to find a tenant for my property?

To answer the initial question.

Right now, it typically takes between 2-4 weeks to find a tenant.

This is broken down into 1-2 weeks to advertise the property and sign a tenancy agreement. But it can take another 2-3 weeks before the tenant moves in.

However, this can change. It may take as little as a week from the property being listed online to a tenant moving in; it could take 8 weeks or more.

But that doesn’t mean your property is empty for 8 weeks, necessarily. You can start advertising a property for rent before your tenants move out.

Opes Partners
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Laine Moger

Journalist and Property Educator with six years of experience, holds a Bachelor of Communication (Honours) from Massey University.

Laine Moger, a seasoned Journalist and Property Educator with six years of experience, holds a Bachelor of Communications (Honours) from Massey University and a Diploma of Journalism from the London School of Journalism. She has been an integral part of the Opes team for two years, crafting content for our website, newsletter, and external columns, as well as contributing to Informed Investor and NZ Property Investor.

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