Ensuring working order

Question from jinhee updated on 11th July 2018:

I’m a tenant in an old apartment built in 1961. Recently, I got stuck in the bathroom for over three hours because the bathroom handle was broken. My neighbour heard but was not able to contact my landlord so they called an emergency locksmith. The locksmith opened the front door and the bathroom door. The locksmith said the latch bolt on the bathroom handle was old and not in working condition anymore.

When I told the landlord what had happened and about the bathroom handle, they said it is the tenant's responsibility. I know that legally tenants are responsible for all damage that results from their neglect or abuse. But I did not damage the bathroom door handle intentionally or due to negligence. It was just used normally. Also, the locksmith identified the malfunction cause as being due to age.

But my landlord has ignored me. Could you please tell me who is responsible for the locksmith costs for opening the doors and installing the new handle.

Our expert Bernard Parker responded:

The owner of a property is responsible for keeping the property in working order. It is logical to expect that a bathroom should have a working latch bolt. If that fails it is the landlord’s responsibility to have it repaired or replaced.

If your landlord fails to do the maintenance you can issue him with a 14 Day Notice to Remedy. If he fails to fix the fault within that time you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a work order. If you look at www.tenancy.govt.nz you will be able to get further information about the process for getting a work order.

Bernard is principal of Quinovic – Kapiti-Mana. Quinovic's outstanding people and systems provide the most professional, effective and reliable residential property management service in the NZ market for over 30 years.

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