Disruptive maintenance

James asks:
(updated on Thursday, April 12th 2018)

We moved in to a rental property and when we viewed the property the outside of the house was starting to be stripped to be repainted. This was three weeks prior to us moving in and the rental agency said it should be mostly done by the time we moved in. But when we moved in the place was still being stripped and now we are being told it should be done in about a month but it could be later.

We feel that the single painter who is doing the work is not even a professional painter and that the the owner has gone for the cheaper option. The work is causing us disruption during the day as I work from a home office and was not expecting this amount of disruption.

We feel that this is major work going on so the property should not have been rented till it was completed. But the rental agency says it comes under maintenance and also that it's the owner dealing with this and not the rental agency. Also, there is no privacy when the painter is here as there aren't any net curtains.

Do we have any options to get the agency to get this sorted ASAP?

Our Experts Answer:

Where necessary maintenance or repairs are required, and access to the inside of the home is needed, the landlord must give the tenant a minimum of 24 hours’ notice to enter the property. Otherwise notice is not required for access to the outside area of the premises only. However, in either case landlords (or any tradespeople they have contracted to carry out repairs or maintenance) need to ensure they do not interfere with the tenant’s reasonable peace, comfort and privacy during the tenancy.

Painting the exterior of a property can be a substantial job and may be best done between tenancies to avoid any disruption to tenants. Where this is not possible, the landlord and tenant may wish to negotiate a suitable schedule that works for both parties, particularly if the tenant works from home. In addition, the landlord and tenant may wish to discuss what will happen if the work is not completed within the agreed time and the intended work will cause them undue disruption (e.g. reduced rent for the time left to complete the work).

If you are unable to reach an agreement on the maintenance schedule, or there is a dispute about whether the work is necessary or would result in an interference with the tenants’ quiet enjoyment then either party can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. For more on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants go to https://www.tenancy.govt.nz.


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