Red-stickered, how does this affect our tenant and our rental income?

Sue asks:
(updated on Friday, September 30th 2011)

As a new landlord I would like advice regarding a property which has been 'red stickered' (no access) post-Christchurch earthquake. The property has no damage however due to Geotech concern over falling rocks our tenant has had to vacate the property until the area has been ok'd. It has been over 2 weeks at this stage and no idea how long it will take. What is our legal position regarding rent and our tenants situation, your advise would be appreciated.

Our Experts Answer:

The sticker system that has been used in Christchurch is a ready reckoner to a building’s safety risk. A red sticker means that the building is unsafe to enter (in your case, because of the falling rocks). If a house has been marked with a red sticker, it is deemed to be uninhabitable and will probably be covered by section 59(1)(a) of the Residential Tenancies Act, which states that “the rent shall abate accordingly”. In short, if a building is not habitable a tenant cannot be expected to pay rent for the period when they are not allowed into the building and have to live elsewhere.

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