Cooking smell protection

Deny asks:
(updated on Wednesday, June 24th 2020)

I own a rental property in Wellington which has been looked after by a property manager. The tenant is doing cooking with strong odours regularly.

A condition of the contract states: "This property is to be left free of any odours from food preparation. If the tenant cooks food that leaves a cooking odour in the property, the tenant will be liable for the cost of removing that smell. This may include the cost of cleaning or replacing, curtains, carpets and paintwork."

Is that sufficient to cover me? Bond fund held may not be enough to replace curtains, carpets and paintwork. What should I do to keep my property protected in terms of this odour issue?

Our Experts Answer:

By 1 July 2021 all residential rental properties must comply with the Healthy Homes Standards, one of which relates to ventilation. Included in these is a requirement that all kitchens and bathrooms must have an extractor fan vented to the outside. The purpose of this standard is to ensure that cooking fumes and moisture are removed from the house. This should deal effectively with cooking odours and prevent cooking fumes from affecting curtains and furniture.

Of course, the tenant will have to turn on and use the extractor fan, in which case your recommended special condition will support you if the tenant does damage the property with cooking smells. The damage caused by a tenant’s carelessness is recoverable up to the lesser of four weeks’ bond or your insurance excess. However, I suggest that you won’t get far if your property doesn’t have an extractor fan to remove
cooking fumes from the kitchen.

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