Leaking roof destroyed books, grounds for a tribunal case?

Morgyn asks:
(updated on Friday, September 30th 2011)

We were in a tenancy last year and had serious problems with a leak in the roof. The landlords were notified in February and failed to have it remedied until June. Between then they told us they had it repaired so we moved possessions back into that part of the house. They lied to us. Not long after rain started gushing in destroying a stereo and $800+ worth of text books. They have decided this isn't their problem. They relied on one contractor to get the work done when there are literally dozens who they could have also approached considering the amount of time this contractor was wasting. Do we have a case for the tribunal?

Our Experts Answer:

Landlords are responsible for ensuring the premises are maintained in a reasonable state of repair, and comply with all the relevant health, safety, and building regulations. If the landlord has breached this obligation and, as a result, your possessions have been damaged, you may be entitled to compensation.

From your email, it sounds as if your tenancy has already ended. If that is the case, I suggest that you first write to your previous landlords to request compensation for the damage caused by their failure to repair the roof. If you are not able to reach an agreement with your landlords, you could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.

To discuss your situation further, or for information about a landlords obligations, you can visit the Department’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz), 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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