Hoarding tenant

Question from Perry updated on 11th April 2012:

I just completed an inspection of my rental and found it in a poor state. My tenant appears to be a hoarder with every room including the bath itself jam packed with basically junk. There are no signs of vacuuming or general cleaning. He is complaining about a mouse problem that I think is due to its un cleanliness. When I commented on the state of the house, he said it is none of my business how he lives. What are my rights in this matter?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, tenants are obliged to keep the premises reasonably clean and tidy. If your tenant is not complying with this obligation, you can give them 14 days written notice to bring the property up to a reasonably clean and tidy standard.

As the notice must be in writing, you must allow for service time and should keep a copy of the notice for yourself. A template for 14 days notice and information about service times, can be found on the Department’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz).

If the tenant does not comply with the notice, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.

Responsibility for the mouse situation will depend on the cause of the problem. If there are mice in the property because of a maintenance problem for which you are responsible then you will also be responsible for getting rid of the mice. However, if the problem is caused by the tenant’s actions (e.g. the property is not being kept reasonably clean and is attracting vermin) then the tenant may be responsible for getting rid of the mice.

I suggest you talk to your tenant to see whether you can agree on the cause of the problem. If you and the tenant cannot agree and if you consider that your tenants caused the mouse problem then you could include in your 14 days notice a requirement that they rid the property of vermin.

If the problem is not fixed, you could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the matter.

To discuss your situation further or for information about landlord and tenant obligations, you can visit the Department’s website, or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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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