"Appropriate level of discount" for rent?

Question from Annmaree updated on 30th August 2013:

Hi, I bought a property in Grey Lynn last year which is cedar clad and is one of two townhouses. Both places needed exterior staining to protect the timber. My tenants have been in the house since last September and pay $800 per week for market rent. The owner of the other townhouse arranged a good 'off season' rate to wash and stain the places. I provided notice to the tenants and they agreed that we could go ahead with the work. The tenant wanted to take two days off to look after her two dogs (allowed as part of the tenancy) while the scaffolding was being erected and the washing done. She then demanded reimbursement of her salary and to keep the peace I discounted the bond still owing by $700. The tenant is now also demanding a rent reduction for the two week period of the staining process. I have offered them $50 a week discount. They have countered with a $200 a week discount. Please advise what is the appropriate level of discount?

Our expert Juliet Robinson responded:

An appropriate level of rent discount is one that fairly reflects the inconvenience that the tenants are enduring. I think you’ve been very generous to your tenants. A landlord has a right to do necessary maintenance on their property. It benefits the landlord, of course – but it also benefits the tenant by preserving the condition of the property for which they are paying rent. Any decision to own dogs comes with responsibilities and costs. To have a landlord pay a tenant’s salary while they’re off work looking after their own dogs would be a real bonus! The $700 discount on bond that you have allowed, while not technically a gift to the tenant (it’s their own money), is a benefit if they don’t have to come up with that amount of bond. When you consider the alternative cost of kennelling their own dogs for a couple of days the tenants have done well. If you think the tenants have a fair deal, you should explain your reasoning to them. If they think they are disadvantaged by your maintenance, they should be able to discuss their reasoning with you. If you can’t agree, the Tenancy Tribunal dispute resolution process is available to you both.

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