Maintenance rules

Gendie asks:
(updated on Friday, September 14th 2018)

I have given my tenants three months’ notice that the exterior of the house is to be repainted. This should take three weeks maximum and could involve weekend work as well. I wish to keep the property well maintained. But my tenants are now telling me that I am being unreasonable. Are there any rules or standards around this?

Our Experts Answer:

Property maintenance is part of a landlord’s responsibilities. When a landlord wants to do work on the property that is not deemed necessary repairs or maintenance, they need to do this with the agreement of the tenant. This is to ensure that the maintenance work does not interfere with the tenants “quiet enjoyment” of their tenancy.

If the tenants consider the painting work and any associated preparation that will occur over three weeks to be unreasonable, it would be helpful to discuss with them as to how the maintenance could be done in a way that will work for both parties. For example, the painting could be scheduled for when the tenants are going to be away, or you could agree on start and finish times that will not significantly interfere with the tenants’ “quiet enjoyment” of the property.

The Residential Tenancies Act only requires notice of entry to be given for certain purposes that require entry into the house; like inspections, complying with smoke alarms and insulation requirements, or to carry out necessary repairs or maintenance.

But where entry into the house is not required, such as to the land or exterior only, then necessary maintenance can be carried out so long as the tenants are made aware and that work will not unreasonably interfere with the tenant’s quiet enjoyment. Also, note that if the exterior painting is not necessary, such as when the exterior paint is in a reasonable state of repair, the tenants can decline to agree to such work.

If a landlord needs to go into the house in relation to any necessary maintenance, they need to give the tenants not less than 24 hours but not more the 14days notice of this. They can only go in between 8am and 7pm on the stated days entry is needed.

If you are unable to reach an agreement on the maintenance schedule, or there is a dispute about whether the work is necessary or would result in an interference with the tenants’ “quiet enjoyment”, then either party can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for either mediation or adjudication to have the matter resolved.

For more on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, go to www.tenancy.govt.nz or subscribe to our e-newsletter Landlord News here

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