Missing property

Question from Carolyn updated on 5th June 2018:

I agreed with my tenants access for me and some tradesmen to renovate an upstairs bathroom with a rent reduction to allow for disruption. I am onsite most of the time while this occurs to paint and project manage. Last week I had a plasterer in for three mornings. I was there for one day to get a feel for this team and a ventilation installer.

One of the tenants, in an adjacent room, now tells me he has missing property and is pointing the finger at these tradies. I am relatively sure that this was not something they would take (clothing), but no other possibility occurs to the tenant. I have provided room security for all tenants and they are able to lock their rooms to avoid ingress by anyone on site. Also, the house was left unsecured as evidenced by open windows and unlocked doors when I was there.

He expects me to do something...? Not sure what, other than asking the tradies if they saw anything untoward, but possibly to contribute to the replacement. Any help appreciated!

Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, landlords are responsible for the actions of anyone they have invited onto the property (with the permission of the tenant), such as tradespeople. Tenants have a responsibility to ensure that they leave the premises in a secure state. Where a suspected theft has occurred, the tenant can file a report with the police. For further information about this process please contact a local police station.

Landlords and tenants should speak with each other in the first instance to try and negotiate an outcome that is agreeable to all. If an agreement is unable to be reached, then the tenant may choose to file an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. Where there is no clear evidence of theft, the Tribunal may dismiss an application and direct a tenant to raise these matters with the police. If the police are able to prosecute someone for theft, the Court can address the issue of reparation.

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.  

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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