Carpet conundrum

Arlene asks:
(updated on Tuesday, February 22nd 2011)

We are entering into a fixed term agreement with a proposed tenant and the company that are organising this for us have advised that we cannot add a clause saying that carpets are to be commercially cleaned at the end of the tenancy. They say that this is not enforceable and a case was recently thrown out of the Tenancy Tribunal (over rent arrears) because the agreement had unenforceable clauses in it and the Adjudicator deemed the contract void. Apparently we cannot contract out of the Act which states that carpets must be left in a reasonably clean condition. Is this correct as we have always added this clause in the past with no problems?

Our Experts Answer:

Tenants are responsible for leaving the premises reasonably clean and tidy at the end of the tenancy, including carpets. If the tenants have left the property, including the carpet, in a reasonably clean condition, then to require them to have the carpet commercially cleaned would be to hold the tenants to a higher standard than is required by the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act). Provisions that are inconsistent with the Act are generally unenforceable. Such provisions may also be seen as an attempt to evade the operation of the Act which may be considered a breach.

The Act also prohibits tenants from waiving their rights under the Act. Any clause of a tenancy agreement that removes these rights will not be enforceable, even if the clause is in writing and has been signed by the tenant. More information is available at www.dbh.govt.nz. To discuss your situation further, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 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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