Damage repair compensation

Question from Lyndon updated on 11th January 2017:

We are currently renting a property that has suffered multiple water leaks and floods which resulted in 10 days of disruptions, water being shut off and industrial drying equipment being installed. We were not able to use the affected rooms and massive noise was produced as these machines ran 24/7 for 10 days.

Now "repairs" are being carried out. The initial plan was to repair and repaint the small affected areas and was meant to happen over two days for minimal disruption. But when the contractors arrived to begin work the plan had changed. The repairs will now take a week and they are re painting entire rooms - both bathrooms and the garage (which we are expected to remove our belongings from and not use for two days).

There has been no contact from the landlord or property manager unless we have contacted them and no compensation has been offered except for $50 a week for the first two weeks of disruptions. It is not a fixed term tenancy and we fear that if we complain we will be given notice. What can we do?

Our expert Allan Galloway responded:

Your landlord has an obligation under the Residential Tenancies Act to maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair, and it appears that they are attempting to do so.

However - where damage has occurred through no fault of the tenant and they feel they are not able to enjoy the full use of the premises because it is partially destroyed or uninhabitable they should discuss with their landlord how they might be compensated for this.

If you feel that the amount offered by the landlord is not appropriate, and they are not willing to offer you further compensation, you could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a higher amount and the Tribunal will determine if this is appropriate. You will need to be able to show the Tribunal that you approached the landlord for this further compensation.

If you discuss this matter with your landlord, and if you think you were then given notice to terminate the tenancy as a result, recent changes to the Act now mean that you would have 28 working days to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for an order deeming the notice “retaliatory” and of no effect. Such a notice is now deemed an “unlawful act” and could attract an award of exemplary damages of up to $4,000.

For further information regarding landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities, visit our website.

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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