Broken washing machine

Question from Rachael updated on 22nd February 2013:

I am part way through a six-month fixed tenancy agreement. The washing machine broke down so I sent an email to the landlord asking if there were any problems with it and if she wanted me to get someone to look at it. She replied that she would rather me let her handle it but that she would prefer me to find my own washing machine and she would pick her one up in two weeks. I couldn't sort  one out for myself so I paid for an electrician, at my own expense to come and repair her machine. She emailed to say she would be coming over to get it and I said not to worry as I had fixed hers at my expense because I couldn't afford my own one. She angrily told me she would be coming to get hers and would prefer me to find my own. I emailed her asking not to and she said she would agree to leave the machine for a bit longer to give me time to arrange my own one. Do I have any say in this? She emailed a chattel list two weeks ago and it didnt have a washing machine on it although it's on the main contract.

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act), landlords have a responsibility to maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair (having regard to the age and character of the premises), which also includes maintaining any facilities that are included and provided by the landlord as part of the tenancy agreement. Where repairs are required, tenants should notify the landlord in the first instance. Responsibility for the repair may depend on the cause of the need for the repair (e.g. the landlord’s responsibility if it is a maintenance issue, or the tenant’s responsibility if it is due to a careless or intentional action by the tenant or their invited guests). Also worth noting is that any variation to the terms and conditions of a tenancy agreement may only be made by mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant(s), therefore any variation to a tenancy agreement that is not agreed to by both parties will not be valid. This means that if a washing machine was provided as part of the terms and conditions of your tenancy agreement, any variation to this may only occur with the mutual agreement of both parties. If your tenancy agreement includes the provision of a washing machine as part of your tenancy, you should highlight this to your landlord in the first instance. If this does not resolve the matter, or if an agreement cannot be reached as to whether the washing machine was included as part of the tenancy arrangement, either party may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. To discuss your situation further, or for information about making an application to the Tenancy Tribunal you can visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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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