Liability for repairs
Question from Kelly updated on 29th July 2011:
Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:
Landlords have an obligation to maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair, which includes keeping the plumbing in good working order. Tenants are required to notify the landlord of any damage to the premises, or of the need for any repairs as soon as possible after discovering a problem.
A landlord is required to compensate a tenant for any expense the tenant incurs repairing the premises if:
• the damage was not caused by the tenant breaching the tenancy agreement (tenants are responsible for damage they or their invited guests cause carelessly or intentionally);
• the state of disrepair was likely to cause injury to a person or property or was otherwise serious and urgent; and
• the tenant gave the landlord notice of the problem first.
I suggest that you liaise with the tenant to see if you can reach an agreement over who will cover the plumbing costs, or whether both parties agree to contribute a portion. If you can not reach an agreement, either party could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.
To discuss your situation further, or for information about landlord and tenant responsibilities, you can visit the Department of Building and Housing 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.