Dirty house!

Question from Mahalia updated on 7th June 2015:

I have moved into a rental property and have found holes, leaking taps, a full compost bin and a sub standard cleaning job throughout. I have taken photos and will meet with the property manager, I am wondering what are my rights in this situation?

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, landlords have an obligation at the start of the tenancy to provide the premises in a reasonable state of cleanliness. Landlords also have a responsibility to ensure the premises are maintained in a reasonable state of repair (while having regard to the age and character of the premises and the period it is likely to remain habitable), and comply with all the relevant health, safety and building regulations that apply to the premises. Where these obligations are not met, tenants should notify the landlord/property manager as soon as possible (as you have done) to address the concerns you have. If this does not resolve the matter, you can give the landlord 14 days’ written notice to remedy the situation. As the notice must be in writing, service times must be allowed for and a copy of the notice retained. A template for 14 days’ written notice and information about service times can be found on the Ministry’s website: http://www.tenancy.govt.nz/pub-sorting-out-problems. If the landlord does not comply with the notice, you can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. Such an application could include a “work order”, and order requiring the landlord to remedy the breach, and an order for “exemplary damages”, a monetary sum awarded to the tenant should it be deemed an unlawful act has occurred which has resulted in the tenant being able to demonstrate they have suffered a loss as a result of the breach. You could also seek termination of the tenancy, depending on the outcome you are after. You can also find information on a landlord’s responsibilities to provide a safe and healthy home on the website here: www.tenancy.govt.nz/maintenance-and-inspections/regular-maintenance or by calling our Tenancy Advice line on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) Monday to Friday between 8am and 5.30pm.

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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