Leaking roof and ceiling

Campbell Rountree asks:
(updated on Monday, April 04th 2022)

We have rented a residential property for a year, and as soon as we moved in there were problems with a leaking roof and ceiling. During rain, water leaks from the ceiling to the floor. We have been emailing, calling and sending photos to the property manager but the owner is reluctant or refuses to undertake substantial repairs. A bucket was placed in the ceiling for 10 months but we don't think this is acceptable. What are our options?

Our Experts Answer:

These sound like serious issues and the owner should be fixing them as soon as possible. 

Failure by the landlord to maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair is a breach of Section 45(1)(b) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 and constitutes an unlawful act. 

Some tenants don’t realise that they are able to serve a notice on the landlord requesting that necessary maintenance is carried out (14-day notice).  Given the length of time that the situation has been going on for I would serve a 14-day notice on the landlord as soon as possible.  Your tenancy agreement should have the address on it for serving notices (normally an email address).

If the landlord hasn’t completed the repairs (or at least started them) within 14 days of you serving the notice, then you should file a Tenancy Tribunal application. 

If it proceeds to a tribunal hearing you should clearly outline the repairs that you want carried out.  Photographs are very helpful in this regard.  You can also request exemplary damages from the landlord.  If the adjudicator finds that the landlord hasn’t maintained the property sufficiently, the landlord can be ordered to pay a fine and will most likely be ordered to carry out certain repairs and you may be awarded damages.

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