Leaking hot water

Kristel asks:
(updated on Sunday, June 21st 2015)

I'm not a landlord but would like to ask a question to see if I need to contact my landlord for this issue. I moved into my new house just over a month ago, two adults and one baby. One adult works six days so is hardly here. We have short showers, both once a day, baby has baths maybe two inches deep once a day. Hardly ever have the lights on. Maybe two at a time at night. Our first bill was $300 for the month, the last time it was that high was in winter with five adults and a heat pump. I have just found that there is water leaking under the house quite badly right where the hot water cylinder is. A plumber is going to come and assess. If the reason for the high powerbill is caused by the hot water cylinder leaking, is the property manager or the landlord responsible for reimbursing us for the bill, or at least part of it? Thanks

Our Experts Answer:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act), landlords are responsible for ensuring the premises are provided and maintained in a reasonable state of repair having regard to the age and character of the premises. Tenants have an obligation to ensure they notify the landlord of any damage to the premises or of the need for any repairs (as soon as possible after discovery). If you have not done so already, you should notify the landlord about the leak straight away. Where both parties have fulfilled their obligations under the Act (e.g. the tenant has notified the landlord of the problem, and the landlord has fixed the problem as soon as they know or have been made aware), responsibility for increased costs that are incurred as a result of the problem becomes less certain. In such cases, and depending on the circumstances of the situation, the landlord may only be responsible for additional costs from the date the landlord knows or is made aware of the maintenance or repair issue. Where tenants have incurred additional expenses due to a repair issue where it can be established the landlord breached their responsibility to provide or maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair, they may choose to approach the landlord seeking reimbursement for the additional expenses. It is recommended in the first instance that both parties try to reach an agreement directly. If you are unable to reach an agreement as to where the responsibility for the extra charge lies or the amount of reimbursement, either party may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. To discuss your situation further, or for information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Ministry’s website (www.tenancy.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) between 8.00am-5.30pm Monday to Friday to speak with a member of our Tenancy Advice team.

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