Obstructed access issues

Michelle asks:
(updated on Thursday, November 10th 2011)

My partner and I rent a flat in a house that has been converted into two flats. We have a double garage underneath the flat. The tenant next door (under the same landlord) has 4 sons in their late teens/early 20's. All of them have cars, friends that visit etc, and there are two small boats that live on the driveway aswell. We have found since living here our garage door access to one (and sometimes both) of the doors is often blocked, despite asking them to move on many many occaisions. After Easter we will have two cars and will therefore need space in front of both garages. We hope the other tenants will comply. If not we have considered asking the landlord to paint a line on the drive to keep this area free. Is this a reasonable thing to request of the landlord? If we find the tenant and visitors keep parking in front of the garages, can the landlord enforce this rule? We have been close to calling a tow company several times as they are serious repeat offenders! Thanks!

Our Experts Answer:

I suggest you discuss the matter with your landlord and ask the landlord to take steps to ensure that your access is not obstructed by the other tenants. Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) landlords have an obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure that none of their tenants interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort, or privacy of other tenants using the premises.

If your landlord does not take all reasonable steps to prevent the other tenants from interfering with your reasonable peace, comfort or privacy, you can give the landlord a 14 days’ notice to fulfil this obligation. If the landlord does not comply with the notice, you could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal against the landlord for not fulfilling their obligations under the Act.

Please note that you need to comply with specific rules when serving notice on the landlord. For example, service time needs to be allowed for delivering the notice to the landlord before the 14 days notice period can start. To find out about these requirements please visit the Department’s website (http://www.dbh.govt.nz/tenancy-az-s).

A template for a 14 days’ notice can also be downloaded from the Department’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz). To discuss your situation further, or for information about a landlords obligations, you can visit the Department’s website (as noted above), 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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