Clean and fair exit please

Question from Alana updated on 20th June 2012:

I took my landlord to the Tenancy Tribunal for breach of not maintaining the house. I won. I gave six weeks noticed as agreed in mediation. The landlord has asked me to leave the keys in a drawer on my last day. I want a final inspection so that I can get my bond back. Can the landlord simply refuse to sign the bond form? The house will be clean and tidy and I do not believe there will be cause not to give my bond back ... can they simply refuse to do a final inspection? What if the landlord refuses to sign the form out of spite? Also is it a breach for the landlord to ask for carpet to be professionally cleaned? I found on the Department of Building and Housing's website that it is against the Residential Tenancies Act, is this true? What are my options? I have a property survey report that states the house is borderline unsanitary - I believe the landlord will try not to return my bond as payback.

Our expert Megan Martin responded:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 does not specifically require landlords to conduct a final property inspection. However, it is recommended that both parties conduct one at the end of the tenancy so that the condition of the property can be determined (and agreed upon) and the bond refund form completed by both parties. If your landlord will not agree to carrying out a final property inspection, you may wish to record the condition the property was left (e.g. taking photos and carrying out a property inspection yourself). If you are unable to get your landlord to complete and sign the bond refund form with you, you can complete the form yourself and send it to the Department of Building and Housing directly. The Department will contact the landlord to determine whether they agree to bond being refunded in accordance with the bond refund form you provided. If your landlord agrees then the bond will be refunded as per the bond refund form. If your landlord does not agree to the amount you are claiming then the bond will not be refunded to you and you will need to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal. If you and your landlord cannot agree on the condition of the property or how the bond is to be refunded, you can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. If your bond is not going to be refunded immediately at the end of the tenancy, you should also contact the Department’s bond advice line (0800 737 666) and update your contact details to ensure you will receive any notifications regarding your bond. As tenants are responsible for leaving the premises reasonably clean and tidy at the end of the tenancy, if the tenants have left the property (including the carpet) in a reasonably clean condition then to require them to have them commercially cleaned may be requiring more of the tenant than what the Act requires. Provisions that are inconsistent with the Act are generally unenforceable. The Act also prohibits tenants from waiving their rights and any clause of a tenancy agreement that removes these rights will not be enforceable. To discuss your situation further or for information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Department’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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