Can tenants be enforced to not use a fireplace?

Question from Sam updated on 18th November 2010:

Our Landlord has told us we cannot use the fireplace and chimney in our property. When the weather is colder we would like to be able to heat our living area. Can she do this?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Landlords have an obligation to ensure the premises are maintained in a reasonable state of repair, and comply with all the relevant health, safety, and building regulations. If the fireplace and chimney were included as part of your tenancy agreement, the landlord has a responsibility to ensure that it is maintained, and that it is compliant.

If the fireplace and chimney are unable to be used as a result of lack of maintenance, the tenant can give the landlord a 10 working days’ notice to carry out the necessary work, and keep a copy for themselves. A template for a 10 working days’ notice can be downloaded from the Department of Building and Housing’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz). If the landlord does not comply with the notice, the tenant could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.

Landlords are also responsible for ensuring the premises comply with all relevant health, safety, and building regulations. If the fireplace and chimney are unable to be used as a result of fire ban regulations in Canterbury, then you could discuss with your landlord whether another form of heating will be provided. If you cannot reach an agreement with your landlord about providing another form of heating, either party can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.

To discuss your situation further, or for information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Department of Building and Housing website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

 

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