Fully-Furnished: what are landlords' obliged to provide?

Pabodha W asks:
(updated on Monday, February 04th 2008)

Hi. We are first-time landlords and put up a 3 bedroomed house for rent as "fully-furnished." Our property contains all necessary furniture and whiteware but we have also included pots, pans, cutlery, crockery, kettle, toaster, iron etc. Our new tenants, on Day 1, have asked us for electrical blankets (as they assumed these would be available in a “fully-furnished” flat), wine glasses and net curtains for the bedroom for privacy (in addition to the already existing curtaining). They are also not happy to pay for the lawn to be maintained although we have said we would take care of the rest of the outdoors so we compromised to share that cost. What are our obligations as landlords of a “fully-furnished” rental property? This couple did see the house before they signed the lease. Many thanks.

Our Experts Answer:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) does not specify what furniture and chattels must be included for a property to be rented as fully furnished, nor does it oblige a landlord to provide certain items. Your tenancy agreement should list the items of furniture and chattels that are provided as part of the tenancy. It is a good idea for landlords and tenants to discuss the chattels and furniture that will be provided before entering into a tenancy agreement. Tenants and landlords may want to negotiate these items before they enter into a tenancy agreement. For example, a tenant may ask the landlord to provide certain items (eg washing machine, cutlery, etc) as part of the tenancy agreement. Once a tenancy agreement has been signed, the tenant will not usually be able to oblige the landlord to provide additional furniture or chattels. The tenant can request additional items be provided, but the Act does not require the landlord to provide them. Landlords should be aware that they are responsible for maintaining any furniture and chattels they provide as part of the tenancy. They are also responsible for fair wear and tear. The tenant is responsible for repairing any careless or intentional damage to furniture and chattels that is caused by themselves or anyone on the property at their invitation. For more information visit www.dbh.govt.nz or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62).

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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