Interruption to quiet enjoyment

Lisa asks:
(updated on Friday, November 11th 2011)

We have lived in our rental for 10 months. From the start the landlord promised such things as decks (to replace rotten pallets that currently pose as decks) a privacy fence between our place and his, a carport etc. None of this has been done. Closest hint of work was piles put in ground for deck in November. Nothing since. My husband even broke bones in his foot by going through the rotten pellets so we removed the worst one. Wondering if not having 'official council sign off' on a rental property and no decks when there should be is against the new (2010) safety regulations for renting a place? No the decks etc weren't written into tenancy agreement but surely its a matter of getting the house up to council sign off standards and safety standards? Having some major issues with the landlord including the above + not allowing us "quiet privacy and enjoyment of property" & numerous other issues.

Our Experts Answer:

Landlords have an obligation to ensure the premises are maintained in a reasonable state of repair and comply with all the relevant health, safety, and building regulations. They also have a responsibility to ensure that they do not interfere with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment of the premises. You may like to contact your local council to find out whether your landlord is breaching any of the relevant health, safety, and building regulations.

Tenancy agreements (and all of the terms and conditions of that agreement) should be in writing, however, a verbal agreement may still be enforceable. If the terms of your tenancy agreement included adding a deck and a fence, then you could ask the landlord to fulfil their obligations. If you consider your landlord has breached the terms of your tenancy agreement or has breached their obligations in relation to the state of the premises, you can give your landlord 14 days’ notice to carry out the necessary work to fix the problem.

If the landlord interferes with your quiet enjoyment of the premises, you could also include this on the notice to remedy. If the landlord does not comply with the notice, you could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. Please note that you need to comply with specific rules when serving notice on the landlord. For example, service time needs to be allowed for delivering the notice to the landlord before the 14 days notice period can start.

To find out about these requirements please visit the Department’s website (http://www.dbh.govt.nz/tenancy-az-s). A template for a 14 days’ notice can also be downloaded from the Department’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz). To discuss your situation further, or for information about a landlords obligations, you can visit the Department’s website (as noted above), 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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