Tardy repairs earn $2000 fine

Friday 3 May 2019

Slow action on a leaky roof has earned a property management company and an absentee landlord a fine and a reprimand from the Tenancy Tribunal.

By The Landlord

Dunedin property management company, Lincoln Darling Real Estate, and Matthew Futcher, who lives overseas, were ordered to pay $2020.44 in damages for taking over a year to fix a leaking roof in a rental property.

Shortly after moving into the rental property on 1 January 2017 the tenant, who had two children, found several issues with the house. These included rotting window frames, draughty windows and ceiling panels, and a roof leak.

The tenant advised the property manager of the leak in the roof on 18 January 2017, but it wouldn’t be replaced until February of the following year.

Over that winter water came inside the house from the ceilings in the bedrooms each time that it rained.

The tenant had to use buckets and tarpaulins to collect the water and to protect her children’s belongings from water damage.

The MBIE Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team were alerted and took the tenant’s case to the Tribunal.

Acting tenancy compliance team manager Peter Hackshaw says the case was not just about the damage to belongings.

“A leaky roof will lead to a damp home, which can result in a number of health issues for those living there. Every New Zealander is entitled to a warm, dry, safe home. TCIT is focused on cases where known harm is occurring.”

The Tribunal found that even though Futcher lives overseas, both he and the property management company were liable on the tenancy agreement and, as such, must both pay the fine.

It described the breaches to the Act as “intentional” as the company and the landlord were made aware of the need for repairs over an extended period of time but simply failed to undertake those repairs within a reasonable time period.

“It’s important that both property management companies and absent landlords fully understand their rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act. Those who are not meeting their obligations under the Act can expect to be held to account.”

MBIE’s tenancy compliance team, which was established in July 2016, focuses on significant or ongoing breaches of the RTA which pose a significant risk to vulnerable tenants.

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