Question from Abbey updated on 3rd July 2019:
What are my obligations to a tenant and rights as a landlord in relation to a plumbing issue which resulted in a large power bill? The plumbing issue was a leaky pipe from the hot water cylinder. It was immediately fixed when I was notified. The tenant now expects me to pay the huge power bill they received as a result of the leaky pipe. They have threatened to not pay the rent so they can pay the bill. Am I obligated to pay the bill? They thought they had noticed something not quite right two weeks prior, but only called me when they got their power bill.
Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:
According to section 40 of the Residential Tenancies Act, tenants need to tell the landlord as soon as possible after discovery if they know of any damage or need for repairs at the premises. If not, the landlord may be able to claim some of the costs of repairing the damage from the tenant if it gets worse because they were not notified promptly.
The responsibility for paying an increased power bill as a result of unforeseen maintenance or repair issues that occur during a tenancy is unclear. If you are unable to resolve the matter between yourselves, the tenants could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to try to recover the increased part of their power costs. Similarly, you may issue a ‘notice to remedy’ if the power account is in your name as landlord, and if not paid you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a decision.
To find out more about how this process, go to https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/disputes/breaches-of-the-residential-tenancies-act/. For more on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, go to www.tenancy.govt.nz or subscribe to our e-newsletter Tenancy Matters 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.