Landlord pushing her luck

Question from Whi updated on 9th October 2012:

We found an un occupied home and contacted the owner to enquire about renting it. We agreed with the landlord that if the landlord paid for materials then we would do the work to get the place up to a livable standard. Two years on an the landlord recently came by with a list of jobs she would like done around the house. We have informed her that this is property maintenance and would be charging her an hourly rate. Any bigger work like replacing weatherboards, waterblasting and painting will be invoiced. I am glad I mentioned charging an hourly rate before just going ahead with the work. Her reply was she expected labour work to be done without charge as with our agreement in the past.

Our expert Megan Martin responded:

Whether or not the Residential Tenancies Act (the Act) applies to your situation will depend on what was agreed to at the start of the tenancy. Without knowing further details it is difficult to provide advice as to how the Act may apply to your situation. It may be worthwhile noting that the the Act requires landlords to maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair. However as the Act defines rent as including any money, goods, services or other valuable consideration in the nature of rent paid by the tenant in respect of their tenancy agreement, then it can be agreed between the parties that the tenant will be responsible for the maintenance of the property which may be in exchange for reduced or no rent payments. If it is agreed that this type of arrangement will be entered into then it is worthwhile determining at the start of the tenancy what the total rent is worth, how that will be apportioned by way of rent payments and specify any amount that will be in consideration for any added responsibilities the tenant will acquire. These details should be recorded in writing. Phone the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) or visit www.dbh.govt.nz to discuss your situation further.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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