Re-paint problems

Paul asks:
(updated on Friday, February 01st 2013)

I've just had a property inspection that shows I need to re-paint the outside of the house, possibly a $10,000 to $20,000 bill. It comes just a year after a full bill of health for the property. It seems the tenant has re-painted the outside of the house (without permission) incorrectly, causing water to get in between two paint layers. Can I re-claim any of this back from the tenant or am I saddled with a huge unexpected bill?

Our Experts Answer:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 requires that the tenant must not “intentionally or carelessly” damage the premises. It will depend on the facts as to whether or not the tenant has been careless. A few questions spring to mind here. How regularly has your property been inspected? When did the tenant paint it? Why did the tenant paint it? I.e. how long ago was last been painted... did the tenant do the work because it was needed? It sounds curious that a tenant would re-paint an entire house that did not need painting! Have you received quotes for a re-paint, or are you just estimating the cost yourself? If you think the tenant should pay for at least some of the cost of re-painting, I suggest you raise the question with the tenant and see if you can come to an agreement. If not, get your facts in order (including the answers to all the above questions), work out how much you think is a fair claim and make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal.

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